Doctor's Notes on Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a condition of impaired muscle coordination and/or other disabilities, usually caused by damage to the brain before or at birth. Signs and symptoms may include lack of muscle coordination, impaired or involuntary movements, abnormal reflexes, exaggerated movements, abnormal walking and posture, difficulty with speech and swallowing, drooling, eye muscle problems and body rigidity or floppiness. Other signs and symptoms that may be present are mental disorders and disabilities, abnormal touch, pain, hearing and vision and urinary incontinence. However, many cerebral palsy patients have some symptoms but can have normal mental capacity that may be difficult to appreciate because of their physical limitations that can interfere with communication.
The cause of cerebral palsy is damage to the developing brain in pregnancy (about 70-80%) and/or during birth or even in the first few years of life. Factors linked to the condition include birth defects, brain damage due to head injury, meningitis, lack of oxygen, severe jaundice, premature birth, multiple births (twins), low birth weight, problems in the mother (infections, seizures, thyroid problems, for example) and complications during labor and delivery.
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Cognitive DeficitsCognitive deficits (intellectual disability) begin in childhood and cause impaired ability to learn and function. Causes of cognitive deficits include genetic abnormalities such as Down syndrome, premature birth, exposure to toxins, and others. Cognitive deficits symptoms include developmental delay, behavioral issues, or difficulties in school. Treatment may include dietary changes, medications, and therapies.
Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing)Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) has many causes. Dysphagia can be caused by diseases of the brain, diseases or conditions that affect muscle function, diseases of the esophagus, or obstructions of the upper digestive tract and esophagus. Symptoms of dysphagia generally is a mild to severe form of difficulty swallowing. Treatment of dysphagia depends on the cause.
Febrile Seizures (Seizures and Fever)Febrile seizures, also known as convulsions, body spasms, or shaking, occur mainly in children and are caused by fever. (Febrile is derived from the Latin febris, meaning fever.)
Motor Skills DisorderMotor skills disorder (motor coordination disorder or motor dyspraxia) is a common childhood disorder of childhood that results in difficulty in processing visuospatial information needed to guide motor activity. Cause is unknown; it is often associated with physiological or developmental abnormalities such as prematurity, developmental disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and learning disorders. Symptoms vary and depend on the age of the child. Treatment includes screening for conditions such as speech and language disorders, Tourette's syndrome, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorders.
Seizures EmergenciesSeizures refer to uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. Symptoms of seizures range from mild to severe and can lead to death. A number of factors can lead to seizures, including brain tumor, injury, and fever. Emergency treatment for seizures can include antiseizure medications to help prevent seizures emergencies.
Seizures in ChildrenA seizure occurs when the brain functions abnormally, and can affect different parts of the brain and body. The types of seizures which most often occur in children are febrile, neonatal, and epileptic. Seizures may be partial or general. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the seizures.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.