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What Is Cerebral Palsy And How Can You Tell If Your Child Has It?

Written and reviewed by
Ms.Harsharan Kaur Randhawa 89% (45ratings)
MA Guidance and Counseling, Pursuing PG Diploma in Counseling and Family Therapy (PGDCFT) , Post Graduate diploma in counseling and Family Therapy
Psychologist, Noida  •  2years experience
What Is Cerebral Palsy And How Can You Tell If Your Child Has It?

World Cerebral Palsy will be observed on 6th October with the aim of making people understand what the disorder is all about. The right knowledge ensures that parents can avail of the best treatment for a child with cerebral palsy. This can improve the child’s quality of life and even increase his/her life expectancy.

So let us learn what cerebral palsy is and how you would be able to tell if your child has it.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder. It is triggered when the cerebellum or basal ganglia of the brain suffer damage. These segments of the brain are responsible for movement, muscle control and balance. So cerebral palsy inhibits a person’s ability to move their limbs and muscles. Furthermore, it could also trigger problems such as difficulty of speech, swallowing food or eye movement.

Cerebral palsy can be congenital (when brain damage happens before or during birth) or acquired (contracted many days after the birth of the baby).

Based on the types of symptoms triggered, cerebral palsy can be of 4 types-

  • Spastic cerebral palsy- the muscles of the body become stiff and immovable.

  • Athetoid cerebral palsy- the person exhibits unnatural and uncontrollable movement

  • Ataxic cerebral palsy- there are tremours when the person tries to move and problems with balancing

  • Mixed cerebral palsy- this kind of cerebral palsy triggers symptoms of all the three other forms of cerebral palsy.

How to tell if your child has cerebral palsy

Identifying cerebral palsy is crucial so that you can get your child the help and treatment he/she needs. Early treatment can drastically improve a child’s quality of life.

Symptoms in babies-

  • The baby seems floppy (low muscle tone)

  • Frequent spasms

  • Rigidity of muscles

  • The baby is unable to hold his/her head steady while crawling

  • Slow reflexes

  • Slow development when it comes to rolling over or crawling

  • Uses one side of the body more than the other

  • Can’t swallow properly

Symptoms in toddlers

Sometimes cerebral palsy signs become more pronounced when the child is a toddler than when he/she was a baby-

  • The baby does not start walking by 18 months

  • Even if the child starts to walk, he/she will frequently lose balance and fall

  • Is unable to speak and self feed by 24 months

  • The child drools excessively

  • There are episodes of seizures

When parents take their children to the doctor, the doctor will recommend tests such as Computed Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging to find out if the child indeed has cerebral palsy and then treatment can begin.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!
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