A brain injury to the region that regulates muscle movement and posture causes cerebral palsy. This can happen during pregnancy, birth, or the first two years of life.
Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors
Cerebral palsy is caused by brain injury that occurs before or during birth. Doctors can’t always pinpoint the cause, and parents can’t always avoid it. Cerebral palsy can occur when the baby’s brain lacks oxygen. Birth complications that restrict oxygen flow to the newborn increase the chance of the disorder.
Cerebral palsy is more likely to occur in kids born prematurely or with low birth weight. Infections like chickenpox or rubella can induce inflammation-causing substances called cytokines in the mother’s body. In the womb, cytokines can reach the bloodstream and affect the developing brain.
Cerebral palsy can also occur in infancy as a result of a brain injury from an accident or infection from meningitis. This is cerebral palsy.
Doctors look for signs and symptoms that arise as a baby grows to diagnose the illness. In addition to neonatologists and neurologists, our team of cerebral palsy experts includes physical and occupational therapists. If a physical examination reveals cerebral palsy, doctors may advise further testing.
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
The physical and cognitive signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy vary depending on the area of the brain that is damaged, the severity of the injury, and the child’s age at onset. These signs and symptoms can appear at any point during a child’s first few years and include:
- Failure to lift a baby’s head by the proper developmental age
- A baby’s limbs are heavy or floppy due to weak muscular tone
- Inflexible joints or muscles, or uncontrollable movement of the arms or legs
- Difficulties coordinating bodily motions, such as gripping and clapping problems
- Swallowing or uncontrollable drooling
- Muscle spasticity, which causes muscles to contract, or tighten, causing hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, and wrists to bend or straighten.
- Uncontrollable tremors
- Inability to write or use scissors
- Speech-related muscles twitching
It varies from child to child. Some kids can stand or walk with a walker or brace, while others can’t. The disorder’s social and developmental characteristics also vary.
Hemiplegia affects one side of the body. Diplegia occurs when the upper or lower body is affected. Quadriplegia occurs when cerebral palsy affects two sides of the body. This is the most severe form.
Severe cerebral palsy can cause symptoms as early as birth. Symptoms often occur gradually in children as they grow.
Minor cerebral palsy symptoms include stiffness or tightness in joints, a limp, uncontrolled movement, or difficulties regulating muscles in the hands and feet. Cognitive and intellectual deficits may accompany physical symptoms.
During the first year of life, spasticity and muscular imbalance can affect the alignment of bones and joints. For example, overly tight hip muscles can pull the hip bone out of its socket, causing hip displacement. In scoliosis, a similar muscle imbalance causes the spine to curve abnormally.
These orthopedic issues can limit movement, and make sitting or walking difficult or painful. Our professionals regularly watch growing cerebral palsy kids. If doctors detect changes in bone alignment early on, they can treat the issue before it worsens.
Infant, Toddler, and Child Testing
A lot of babies don’t display symptoms immediately. If a newborn or toddler is not meeting developmental milestones or has poor muscular control, doctors may refer them to a specialist.
Pediatric orthopedists, neurologists, and physiatrists may help diagnose. Cerebral palsy is usually diagnosed by age three.
A doctor may usually identify cerebral palsy in an infant, toddler, or kid based on the baby’s delivery characteristics (such as difficulty or early birth) and a physical exam. Pediatricians look for low muscle tone and spasticity in your child’s hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, and wrists.
CT scans employ X-rays to take images of the brain. A computer merges these images, revealing damage to the brain areas related to balance and movement. MRI scans provide detailed images of the brain’s tissues using magnetic fields, radio waves, and computer imaging. MRI scans can show apparent brain injury.
X-rays and EOS
X-rays are widely utilized to scan internal organs. EOS imaging is a modern approach that uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of the body. These imaging scans can help doctors track a child’s bone growth.
To help your kid, your child’s doctor can explain the treatment options available and which is best for your child based on the results of an X-ray or EOS imaging.
Cerebral palsy symptoms can be remarkably similar to those of a genetic neuromuscular condition like muscular dystrophy. Our geneticists and pediatric neurologists can perform a comprehensive genetic test to diagnose a problem and guide treatment.
Take a cerebral palsy quiz to find out more.