For many lay persons, cerebral palsy is most distinguished for its symptoms. The symptoms may be very mild or quite severe. Those who are seriously affected by the disease may show such symptoms as muscle stiffening, uncoordinated movements and unbalanced gait. The facial muscles may also be affected causing drooling and speech difficulties. These symptoms may lead some people to believe that cerebral palsy may be a disorder of the muscles. This is not an accurate concept.
The biology of cerebral palsy begins in the brain. It is actually a condition that results from damage to certain parts of the brain that manage motor movement. In other words there is no appropriate signal from the brain sent to the muscles to make them move properly.
The parts that are damaged determine the type of cerebral palsy that an individual will develop. The spastic type is the most common type of cerebral palsy. It is the result of damage to the motor cortex or the corticospinal tract. This results in rigid muscles that tend to spasm. The ataxic type is caused by damage to the cerebellum. Those who have this have difficulties with fine motor tasks and maintaining their balance. The athetoid type results from damage to the basal ganglia. A person who has this may show slow and wriggling movements.
In some cases, individuals may show mixed symptoms from the different types. The symptoms however, once they appear do not get worse. Not every parent may find it easy to detect the symptoms. Studies on the biology of cerebral palsy are not always clear on the causes and exact timing of symptoms. It has been generally known though that cerebral palsy itself can occur at any time during brain development. This means that the stage from fetal development to the toddler stage could make a child susceptible to the disorder. Symptoms can therefore appear at any time from birth to 3 years old.
The biology of cerebral palsy may truly be complex. This may be why the exact major causes have not been determined. It has simply been theorized that certain factors may contribute to cerebral palsy. These factors can be anything from prenatal condition or health of the mother to after birth handling of children. A mother who has an infection or who has difficulty giving birth may put the unborn child in danger of developing cerebral palsy. A child who suffers from head trauma or gets a viral or bacterial infection after birth is also in danger of having cerebral palsy.
It may take some time to fully understand the biology of cerebral palsy. There is no doubt however that scientists and researchers are slowly beginning to grasp the undiscovered facts about cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy Therapy Tip #1
Get Help – Taking care of someone with cerebral palsy is a lot of hard work. Occasionally you have to take a break and spend some time alone. Ask family and friends for help and teach them how to do what you do so you can get away for a while.
Cerebral Palsy Therapy Tip #2
Stay Positive – Cerebral palsy is not a disease and will not get progressively worse. Accepting the condition for what it is and keeping a positive outlook will make life easier for you and the person you are caring for.