Cerebral palsy and its effects on children Essay

Yvonne Pierre once said, “I Have a Dream... someday ALL parents who have children with disabilities see their child as a blessing and not a burden.” What disability you may ask. The disability I will be focusing on is known as Cerebral Palsy or CP. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “Cerebral Palsy is a physical condition involving permanent tightening of the muscles that is caused by damage to the brain around or before the time of birth” ("Cerebral Palsy", n.d.). Although Cerebral Palsy affects thousands of children each year, it is important to note that there are several different types of CP; it is caused by a variety of different things, children are seriously affected by it and there are certain difficulties that they face; however there are a few treatment options for it.

The childhood disability that affects the movement and motor skills of children is referred to as cerebral palsy, this condition has brain damage as the underlying cause; this maybe caused during labour, delivery and even shortly after birth. There are four main types of cerebral palsy that affects children: spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic and mixed cerebral palsy. The most common type of cerebral palsy that is known to affect 80% of persons is spastic cerebral palsy which causes abnormal increased muscle tone, known as spasticity. Thus, there are three types of spastic cerebral palsy. They are spastic quadriplegia which is the most severe form of spastic CP that affects a child’s upper and lower limbs and body, severely restricting mobility. Many children with spastic quadriplegia will also experience chronic seizures, have difficulty with hearing and speech, as well as associated learning disabilities. While, Spastic diplegia is another type of spastic cerebral palsy it is not as severe as spastic quadriplegia. It affects only the lower half of the body, and some children are still able to walk. However, because of tight hip and leg muscles, they often struggle to walk, have issues with balance and coordination, and may need assistive devices for mobility. Other symptoms include delayed milestones, fatigue, seizures, flexed knees, and a crouched gait. Even though, Spastic hemiplegia is another type of spatic cerebral palsy it affects only one side of the body, usually the arm more than the leg. The child can often adapt, and most are able to walk. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is also known as dystonic and athetoid. It is the second most common type of CP. Persons with this type of cerebral palsy will have dystonia (repetitive and twisting motions), athetosis (slow, writhing movements), chorea (unpredictable and irregular movements), poor posture, painful movements and difficulty swallowing or talking. Ataxic cerebral palsy is the least common type of CP. It causes poor balance and coordination, tremors, and shaky movements that are difficult to control. While, mixed cerebral palsy causes a mixture of the symptoms characteristic of all the other types. For example spastic-dyskinetic cerebral palsy which is the most common type of mixed cerebral palsy” ("Cerebral Palsy", 2019).

There are several defects that contributes to cerebral palsy such as brain damage being the most common. Even though, there are many potential ways damage can occur. In some cases the exact cause of cerebral palsy and brain damage are unknown. Brain damage can occur mostly during childbirth ("Cerebral Palsy", 2019). Another cause of cerebral palsy is preeclampsia. This is a condition in which a pregnant mother has high blood pressure along with high levels of protein in her urine. Research has proven that five to eight percent of pregnancies are affected by this condition and can result in brain damage in the infant. If preeclampsia develops into eclampsia, which is when it progresses to maternal seizures, it can have devastating consequences for the newborn, including brain damage, seizures, and even death. Consequently, infections is also another cause of cerebral palsy. When a mother has an infection during pregnancy, it can affect her unborn child. Infections like herpes, rubella otherwise known as German measles, syphilis, cystitis, HIV and others, especially when not properly treated, increase the risk of brain damage in the baby. Infections can also increase the risk of premature birth, which is also associated with a greater possibility of damage to the brain” ("Infant Brain Damage", 2019).

The effects cerebral palsy has on children is heart rending because children with CP cannot control some or all of their movements while, some children are hardly affected at all. Some will have difficulty talking, walking or using their hands yet, some will be unable to sit up without support and will need help to do most of their everyday tasks. Most of the features a child with cerebral palsy has are slow, awkward or jerky movements, muscle spasms and unwanted movements. The start of one movement often results in other unwanted movements. Thus, cerebral palsy is not very progressive this means it does not become more severe as the child gets older, but some difficulties do become more noticeable. Even though, certain difficulties and medical conditions occur more often in children with cerebral palsy than in other children no two children may experience exactly the same difficulties ("Effects of Cerebral Palsy", n.d.).

There are certain difficulties children with cerebral palsy has these are speech problem, hearing difficulties and eyesight problems. Speech problems and difficulties with chewing and swallowing often occur together in children with cerebral palsy. Speech depends on the ability to be in command of little muscles in the mouth, tongue, palate and voice-box. However, children with athetoid cerebral palsy are more likely to have severe hearing difficulties than other children, though this is not the case for children with other forms of cerebral palsy. Eyesight problems is also another difficulty children with cerebral palsy has. The most common eye problem is a squint, which may need rectification with glasses, or in severe cases, an operation. Some children may have cortical vision defect. This means that the part of the brain that is responsible for understanding the images the child sees is not functioning properly. When examined the eyes may appear healthy, but the child will not be able to see properly. The difficulty is in unscrambling the messages received from the brain, for example when learning to read ("Effects of Cerebral Palsy", n.d.).

Currently, there is no cure for cerebral palsy, but a variety of treatment options can improve symptoms and quality of life for babies and children. One such treatment is medication because it controls spastic movements, seizures, and relieve pain. Surgery is also an important treatment option for many children with CP. Surgical procedures may be used to improve mobility or manage pain, for instance. Common procedures include tendon or muscle release, repair of hip dislocations, as well as scoliosis surgery. Various types of therapy can also be helpful for people with cerebral palsy. Therapy can improve physical, mental, social, and learning deficits. If started early enough, therapy for cerebral palsy can reduce impairment and lessen the risk of developing other associated conditions. Common types of therapy used to help children with cerebral palsy include: physical, occupational and aquatic ("Cerebral Palsy", 2019).

In conclusion, it was evident that there are different types of cerebral palsy such as spastic cerebral palsy, dyskinetic cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy and mixed cerebral palsy. Cerebral Palsy is caused by things such as brain damage, preeclampsia and infections. It affects children by causing them to have slow, awkward or jerky movements, muscle spasms and unwanted movements. The difficulties children with cerebral palsy has are speech problem, hearing difficulties and eyesight problems. However, there are treatment options such as medications, surgery and therapy. Therefore, living with cerebral palsy is different for every child. This research paper was an inspiration of a remarkable story of a father’s devotion to his wheelchair-bound son “Rick”. Dick and Rick Hoyt, better known as “Team Hoyt” inspired millions of people worldwide. Rick was born to Dick and Judy Hoyt in Holland, Massachusetts in the USA. As a result of oxygen deprivation to Rick’s brain at the time of his birth, Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. Therefore, his brain is unable to send the correct messages to his muscles. Dick and Judy were advised to institutionalize Rick because there was no chance of him recovering, and little hope for Rick to live a “normal” life (The inspiring story of Dick and Rick Hoyt (Team Hoyt)). However, this did not stop Team Hoyt from entering athletic competitions and wining. This goes to show that, “There is a light at the end of every tunnel. Some tunnels just happen to be longer than others” (Adams).

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