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Cerebral Palsy

The terms cerebral is derived from the Latin word Cerebrum meaning 'brain - top of the head, skull', the dominant part of the brain in human beings. Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that causes physical disability in human development by affecting the brain and nervous system. While the cerebral area in the brain gets affected, there is a complete or partial muscle paralysis. Most often, this is accompanied by a loss of sensation and there are uncontrollable body movements or tremors.


Cerebral palsy shows up as early as the first three years of life. Some prominent signs and symptoms being delay in developmental milestones like crawling, walking or speaking, crawling in an unusual manner, abnormal muscle tone, difficulty in feeding and sucking, lying in awkward position, gets startled easily, stiff / involuntary slow and limited movements and bad balance, problems in hearing, problems in eyesight, control problems in bladder and bowel movements, occurrence of seizures and problems in swallowing.


Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the cerebrum. Since the cerebrum is responsible for memory and learning skills, persons with cerebral palsy have problems in communications and learning. Hearing and sight are also affected due to damage to cerebrum. At least one tenth of the babies affected by cerebral palsy are due to deprived oxygen during labor and delivery. And most of the cases occur before they are born.


The mother's medical history during her pregnancy is examined for diagnosis of cerebral palsy in the child. The affected child is examined and postures, movements, and child's reflexes are studied by the doctor. Sometimes the doctor refers to a psychologist to assess intellectual development of the victim while diagnosing cerebral palsy.


The treatment for cerebral palsy is entirely dependent on individual needs of the person. Treatment for cerebral palsy is done with by an interdisciplinary team of health professionals including a general Physician, a pediatrician, a social worker, a health care visitor, and a physiotherapist, a speech therapist and an occupational therapist. Each of these specialists draws up their individual plants and addresses the needs of the child. Whatever be the line of treatment, the aim is to help the child get as much independence as possible throughout their life.

Abundant precaution during pregnancy is one way to avoid risk of cerebral palsy in the child. However, many of the medical conditions associated with cerebral palsy can be treated and quality of life of the victim, improved.

Dysarthria

Dysarthria is a condition where speech is slurred due to muscular problems. When it occurs in children, it is called developmental dysarthria. In later life, it can occur due to a stroke, brain tumor, Parkinson's disease, Multiple sclerosis, Myasthenia gravis or Cerebral palsy.

The patients tend to exhibit quieter or slurred speech, hoarse voice or altered speech rhythm. Swallowing problems might be noticed. A laryngoscopy might be done. MRI or CAT scans of the brain might be ordered. Barium swallow, Nerve conduction tests and electromyogram are other diagnostic tests that help detect the cause for Dysarthria.


Scoliosis

Scoliosis refers to an abnormal curving of the spine. While everyone has a natural curve to the spine, scoliosis indicates an unnatural curve. When the spine appears to bend forward, it is known as Kyphosis. When the spine appears to bend backward, it is referred to as Lordosis. In scoliosis, the person develops additional curve and the bones of the spine twist on each other.


Infantile Scoliosis: Noticed in children 3 years and younger.

Juvenile Scoliosis: Noticed in children from 4 to 10 years.

Adolescent Scoliosis: Noticed in children from 11 to 18 years.

Congenital Scoliosis: This is present from birth and is a result of improper formation of the baby's ribs and spine.

Neuromuscular Scoliosis: Medical conditions like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, and polio lead to this kind of scoliosis. Abnormal development of spinal bones can also lead to this type of scoliosis.

Functional Scoliosis is caused by an abnormality located elsewhere in the body, such as difference in leg length.


Symptoms of Scoliosis

The person has a noticeable pelvic tilt and one shoulder might be higher than the other. Backache or lower back pain is felt. Sometimes the unnatural curve of the spine makes it difficult for the proper functioning of the heart and lungs. This can result in chest pain and shortness of breath.

Diagnosis tests such as spinal curve measurement, x-ray, CT scan and MRI of the spine are undertaken to check for structural and temporary spinal curve. A neurological examination of the patient is also done to check for muscle weakness, numbness and abnormal reflexes.


Treating Scoliosis

Treatment for scoliosis depends on the nature and degree of curvature as well as age of the patient. Infantile idiopathic scoliosis often improves without treatment. Juvenile scoliosis is often the kind that gets worse over time. A brace is often suggested to prevent worsening of the spinal curve. This is ideal when the patient is still growing and the curve is moderate. Low profile brace or Thoracolumbosacral Orthosis TLSO is one that is contoured to the body shape. It is worn under the clothes and fits under the arms and around the rib cage and back and hips. This works best for curvature of the upper spine.

Milwaukee Brace is a full-torso brace that is worn when the condition is more severe and has a neck ring for resting the chin and back of the head. Schroth Exercises are often recommended to help the patient deal with the condition. It encompasses a set of stretching, breathing and strengthening exercises that can be incorporated into your daily lifestyle. Corrective surgery is done when scoliosis is getting severe. A metal rod might be inserted to fuse two or more bones.


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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: December 11, 2017