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               Cerebral Palsy

Intro

If your child was born prematurely, had a low birth weight, or was subject to certain complications of pregnancy , labor, or delivery, he or she will be monitored carefully over time for signs of CP. Any of the following warrant a visit to your child’s health care provider:

  • Your child has a seizures .
  • Your child’s movements seem unusually jerky, abrupt, uncoordinated, or slow and writhing.
  • Your child’s muscles seem unusually tense or, on the other hand, limp and “floppy.”
  • Your child does not blink in response to loud noises by age 1 month.
  • Your child does not turn his or her head toward a sound by age 4 months.
  • Your child does not reach out for a toy by age 4 months.
  • Your child does not sit up unsupported by age 7 months.
  • Your child does not say words by age 12 months.
  • Your child develops left- or right-handedness before age 12 months.
  • Your child has strabismus (one eye turned inward or outward).
  • Your child does not walk or walks with a stiff or abnormal gait, such as toe-walking.

These are only some of the most obvious examples of problems that may signal CP. You should speak to your child’s health care provider about any problems that suggest a lack of control or muscles or movements.

 
Other Therapy

Many children with cerebral palsy develop emotional problems, behavior problems, or both. They can benefit from sessions with a psychologist or counselor.

Personal computers and related technologies offer wonderful opportunities for communication, social interaction, education, entertainment, and employment for people with cerebral palsy

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Follow-up

The overall goal for ongoing care of individuals with CP is to help them reach their full physical, mental, and emotional potential. Generally, this includes living as much as possible in the mainstream of their society and culture. People with CP tend to be happiest and most productive when they can go to school with, live with, and work with their peers.

Children with CP require regular sessions with their physical, occupational, and speech/language therapists, as well as frequent check-ups with their medical and surgical teams. The exact schedule of visits is determined by the severity of the child’s condition and his or her response to treatment. A multidisciplinary CP clinic allows for frequent and complete care with the minimum of inconvenience.

 
Prevention

Often the cause of cerebral palsy is not known, and nothing can be done to prevent it. However, some important causes of cerebral palsy can be prevented in many cases, including premature birth, low birth weight, infections, and head injuries.

Seek appropriate prenatal care as early as possible in the pregnancy. Many women schedule a prepregnancy visit so they can be properly prepared for a healthy pregnancy. Appropriate care is available from physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse-midwives. Avoid using cigarettes, alcohol, and illicit drugs during pregnancy: these increase your risk of premature delivery.

Rubella (measles) during pregnancy or early in life is a cause of cerebral palsy. Testing for rubella immunity before you become pregnancy allows you to be immunized, which protects both you and your baby from contracting this potentially devastating illness.

Appropriate prenatal care includes testing for Rh factor. Rh incompatibility is easily treated but can cause brain damage and other problems if untreated.

Routine vaccinations of babies can prevent serious infections such as meningitis that can lead to cerebral palsy.

Make sure your child is restrained in a properly installed car seat and wears a helmet when riding on a bicycle.

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