Understanding The Diagnosis.
Cerebral palsy occurs in every 2.3-3.6 of every 1000 children in the US along with 764,000 adults that are currently diagnosed with this disorder. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes explains that the most common form of CP disorder is spastic cerebral palsy which affects around 80% of all diagnosed cases.
With Cerebral palsy being a neurological disorder that affects a person's movements, muscle tone, and coordination, the chances of a fall are increased dramatically, and as the disorder develops, the probability of a fall that could be fatal rises due to the escalation of symptoms.
What are the Symptoms for Cerebral Palsy?
There are copious symptoms which are related to the cerebral palsy, many of which are dependent on the type and extent of the disorder, and generally speaking, differ significantly from one person to another.
Most Common Cerebral Palsy Disorders
Spastic diplegia – The most common type which involves muscle stiffness, generally in the leg area but the arms may be mildly affected too and can cause difficulty walking.
Spastic hemiplegia – This is usually when one side of the body is involved, with movement difficulties primarily in the arm on the affected side.
Spastic quadriplegia – This type reduces motor dysfunction all over the body. It is the most severe type of spastic cerebral palsy, and usually comes with other associated disorders
Dyskinetic CP - This is the second most common type of cerebral palsy after spastic forms. It is marked by abnormal movements in the arms, hands, and legs, making it difficult to control body movements and coordination. Walking and sitting down can be difficult, and muscle tone can be variable and change from tight to loose from day to day. Many have trouble controlling their face and tongue movements, resulting in difficulties with speech.
Ataxic cerebral palsy - This is the least common type of CP. Effects include difficulty walking and writing due to instability, effects speech, eye movement and swallowing. Movements can become interrupted and uncontrolled, causing a lack of balance or coordination.
Sometimes children develop a mix of CP. A combination of dyskinetic and spastic cerebral palsy is the most common, but children can develop a blend of any CP. Symptoms will depend on which types of cerebral palsy the child has.
Cerebral Palsy Treatment Options
While there is currently no cure for CP, there are several therapies available to aid speaking and communication while encouraging independence and confidence as they mature into adults.
Physical Therapy - Therapists can provide an array of exercises and stretching techniques to promote strength, supple joints and better balance, so if a fall occurred, the person would lower the chances of the fall being fatal as a result of the increase in strength.
Aquatic Therapy - Although this is a new concept for cerebral palsy, aquatic therapy is proving very beneficial. Results have shown to improve muscle tone and physical function for better balance and coordination. Also, it has been known to improve a person's confidence.
Speech Therapy - This type of therapy can encourage better communication between parent and child. Both sign language and speech therapy have shown excellent results for developing better communication responses.
Drama Therapy - Similar to aquatic therapy, studies have shown emotional growth using this art-based therapy. It allows for safe exploration of emotional difficulties by creating safe spaces to explore these difficult issues.
Occupational Therapy - Another therapy for identifying problems that you or your child have carrying out everyday tasks is occupational therapy. A therapist can advise you on completing certain activities that help to resolve complex movements, such as going to the toilet or getting dressed.
Fall Prevention For Cerebral Palsy
Adults with cerebral palsy are at a higher risk of a fall than teens and children with the disorder. This is a result of decreased mobility which starts to decline drastically during middle and older adulthood. However, people of all ages with CP can fall easily due to imbalance issues and non-voluntary movements.
To prepare for the eventuality of a fall, here are some measures that you can put in place:
Mobility Aids - Foot, ankle-foot, spinal, knee, knee-ankle orthotics can aid children when walking, and a wide range of walkers and canes can also support a person's ability to walk independently.
Safe Guard The Home - To offer protection from an unwanted fall, you can remove rugs and bulky furnishings from walking routes within the home. Additionally, you can add lighting in shaded areas of the room for increased visibility, and also soften corners with foam padding.
Personal Alarms - A body alarm can reduce worries for carers, and family members should a person fall. The alarm can be worn around the neck or on the wrist and once pressed, it will send an alert out immediately for support.
Protective Head Gear Against Injurious Falls
All falls can lead to a head injury which is why it is vital to protect the head from any risk of trauma. If the person is prone to falls, a medical professional may suggest that you purchase a protective helmet that can be worn daily to reduce head trauma when a fall takes place.
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For more information about prevention and care for cerebral palsy, you can find lots of support via the link below.