Have you ever heard a family member talk about your first step or the first word you spoke? For kids with cerebral palsy, taking a first step or saying a first word is not as easy. That’s because Cerebral palsy is a condition that can affect the things that kids do every day.
Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects thousands of babies and children each year. It is not contagious, which means you can’t catch it from anyone who has it. The word cerebral means having to do with the brain. The word palsy means a weakness or problem in the way a person moves or positions his or her body.
A kid with Cerebral palsy has trouble controlling the muscles of the body. Normally, the brain tells the rest of the body exactly what to do and when to do it. But because Cerebral palsy affects the brain, depending on what part of the brain is affected, a kid might not be able to walk, talk, eat, or play the way most kids do.
There are three types of cerebral palsy: spastic, athetoid and ataxic. The most common type of Cerebral palsy is spastic. A kid with spastic Cerebral palsy can’t relax his or her muscles or the muscles may be stiff.
Athetoid Cerebral palsy affects a kid’s ability to control the muscles of the body. This means that the arms or legs that are affected by athetoid may flutter and move suddenly. They also have problems with balance and coordination.
A kid with CP can have a mild case or a more severe case, it really depends on how much of the brain is affected and which parts of the body that section of the brain controls. If both arms and both legs are affected, a kid might need to use a wheelchair. If only the legs are affected, a kid might walk in an unsteady way or have to wear braces or use crutches. If the part of the brain that controls speech is affected, a kid with Cerebral palsy might have trouble talking clearly or might not be able to speak at all.
Some of the symptoms include:
• Variations in muscle tone, such as being either too stiff or too floppy
• Stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes
• Stiff muscles with normal reflexes
• Lack of muscle coordination
• Tremors or involuntary movements
• Slow, writhing movements
• Delays in reaching motor skills milestones, such as pushing up on arms, sitting up alone or crawling
• Favoring one side of the body, such as reaching with only one hand or dragging a leg while crawling
• Difficulty walking, such as walking on toes, a crouched gait, a scissors-like gait with knees crossing or a wide gait
• Excessive drooling or problems with swallowing
• Difficulty with sucking or eating
• Delays in speech development or difficulty speaking
• Difficulty with precise motions, such as picking up a crayon or spoon
Other neurological problems include:
• Difficulty with vision and hearing
• Intellectual disabilities
• Abnormal touch or pain perceptions
• Oral diseases
• Mental health conditions
• Urinary incontinence
For some babies, injuries to the brain during pregnancy or soon after birth may be the cause. But for most kids with CP, the problem in the brain occurs before birth.
Cerebral palsy usually doesn’t stop kids from going to school, making friends, or doing things they enjoy. But they may have to do these things a little differently or they may need some help. With computers to help them communicate and wheelchairs to help them get around, kids with Cerebral palsy often can do a lot of stuff that kids without this disease can do.
Kids with cerebral palsy are just like other kids, but with some greater challenges that make it harder to do everyday things. More than anything else, they want to fit in and be liked. Being understanding is what being a good friend is all about and a kid with Cerebral palsy will really appreciate it.