Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a group of non-progressive and permanent neurological conditions. It occurs when a child’s developing brain faces serious injury, most often before or during birth.
Legal teams and case managers supporting families and children living with cerebral palsy should be aware of the significant impact which affects multiple skills of movement, posture, walking, speech, swallowing, intellect and behaviour to varying degrees as a child’s brain develops.
About one in 400 children suffer from cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy can occur if the brain is damaged before, during or shortly after birth, particularly during a difficult birth. Children who have low birth weight, are premature or are the result of twin pregnancies are at a greater risk of developing cerebral palsy earlier in life.
There are also some maternal and foetal risk factors that can be attributed to the occurrence of cerebral palsy. Maternal infections that include cytomegalovirus, syphilis, toxoplasmosis, herpes and rubella or neonatal infections that include bacterial meningitis, viral encephalitis, or neonatal jaundice can lead to neurological damage that eventually leads to cerebral palsy.
The symptoms usually become apparent within the first three years of birth or in the first years of primary school, when the child fails to meet its developmental milestones. For example, parents might suspect something is wrong when a child is unable to sit up by 6 months, has not started walking by 12-18 months or if the child develops an abnormal posture and floppiness.
Other symptoms include stiffness in the muscles, difficulty in sucking, excessive dribbling, difficulty in learning at school, tremors and seizures and difficulty in walking.
Neurorehabilitation for cerebral palsy
An early diagnosis of cerebral palsy and lead to better lifetime outcomes for the child, and may avoid further complications.
Alongside medical and surgical procedures which aim to improve range of movement and decrease the impact of spasticity, a team of rehabilitation professionals also work together to deal with the symptoms that the child presents with as the disease progresses.
These professionals work together to help the child and family cope with the impairments caused by cerebral palsy that adversely affect and impede their development. This team may include experts in physiotherapy, orthotics, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, recreational therapy, psychology, nursing, medicine and orthopaedics, covering all possible neurological implications of this condition.
The multi-disciplinary team focuses on developing a child’s basic daily activities and skills like sitting and walking. In children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the therapists ensure that the patient is capable of living as independently as possible later in life. The rehabilitation aims to improve the function and independence of a patient, so they can live a more independent life.
Neurorehabilitation is essential to accelerate the healing process and regain and relearn the near-normal functional potential of a person.
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