Brain Injuries and Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a term describing a number of chronic medical conditions affecting both muscle coordination and body movements. This is the result of damage to a number of regions of the brain, which typically occurs during fetal development, birth, or infancy. These symptoms are not related to any muscle or nerve damage. They are a result of damage or problematic development of critical motor areas of the brain which affect its ability to control movement.

Cerebral Palsy is a developmental condition, and by definition is not progressive, that is, it cannot get worse during life. However, side effects of this condition, such as muscle spasms, can change over time. Cerebral Palsy is not considered a disease and is in no way communicable. It is caused by permanent brain damage and cannot be cured, although patients can learn to 'manage' its effects.

Types

Spastic Cerebral Palsy - This type of Cerebral Palsy effects anywhere between 70 and 80 percent of patients, and is characterized by stiff and permanent contraction of the muscles. This type of Cerebral Palsy is often described according to which limbs are affected. In a percentage of cases, this type of Cerebral Palsy follows a period of hypotonia (poor muscular tone) in infants.

Athetoid/Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy - Affects between 10 and 20 percent of patients, and is characterized by uncontrollable, slow movements. The most commonly affected muscle groups include the feet, legs, arms, hands, and possibly facial muscles. These movements can intensify during stressful times and usually disappear when the patient is sleeping. In cases where facial muscles are affected, patients may experience problems with speech, also known as dysarthria.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy This is the rarest form of Cerebral Palsy, affecting balance and depth perception. This results in symptoms such as poor coordination, problems walking, and difficulty with quick & precise movement. In addition, patients may also display intention tremor. This typically results in difficulty beginning voluntary movements, and causes an increasingly serious tremor. Only 5 to 10 percent of patients are affected by this type.

Mixed Form Cerebral Palsy - In many cases, patients may display symptoms from more than one form of Cerebral Palsy.

 

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