Cerebral palsy refers to an abnormality of motor function. It affects a person’s ability to move and control their movements. In most cases, cerebral palsy is acquired and diagnosed at a young age. Some causes of this condition include prematurity, certain genetic disorders, strokes, and in some cases, infections of the brain.
When muscle tone is optimal, we can bend over and move smoothly and without complication. Proper muscle tone also allows us to sit, stand, and have good posture. Improper muscle tone occurs when the muscles don’t coordinate together, making fluid movement difficult. It also makes coordination difficult, because your muscles want to move and contract at the same time. If the muscles are too relaxed, impaired posture can occur, and it may be difficult to change position. Physical therapy is a crucial element in treating this condition and is of particular importance for good muscle control.
Another frequent symptom caused by cerebral palsy is coordination problems. These occur on a day-to-day basis, but they are most likely to appear during periods of increased stress. Coordination problems often disappear during sleep, as this allows for the muscles to relax. We can distinguish between different types of coordination issues, such as task-related problems and spastic movements. The former appears, for example, when the patient attempts to grab an individual object. The latter occurs when the muscles become tense and tight, resulting in spasms as well as scissoring of the legs.
People with cerebral palsy are likely to have difficulties with their reflexes that often results in an excessive reflex response that can cause twitching and spasticity. In some cases, the reflexes may also be undeveloped, meaning that they may not function properly in children who have cerebral palsy. Moreover, certain individuals may lack postural and protective reflexes, which are important for dangerous situations. When a person doesn’t have adequate reflexes, they may find themselves unable to respond to certain stimuli.
Posture-related problems are one of the most common signs of cerebral palsy. Not only does this condition affect good posture, but it also has detrimental effects on balance. You may begin to notice differences in a child as he starts growing. A healthy posture is symmetrical, meaning that both sides of the back are mirror images of one another. However, if the posture is asymmetrical, the right and left limbs will not mirror one another. This is usually because one leg begs inwards at the hip while the other bends outwards.
People who have cerebral palsy will often experience problems with their balance. The deterioration of gross motor function has adverse effects on a child’s capacity to balance himself or herself. This usually becomes apparent when the child learns to sit, stand, and rise from a sitting position. It can also begin showing up when the child starts crawling or walking. If a child cannot sit without support, he or she may have cerebral palsy. When determining the overall impact of the condition, doctors will often evaluate balance to determine the severity of cerebral palsy. Once again, it’s important to receive adequate physical therapy to help mend the symptoms.
Improper Motor Function
Improper motor function is often indicative of cerebral palsy. If the motor function is affected, the cause often has to do with lacking muscle tone, especially hypertonia or hypotonia. When you have improper motor function, the muscles of the body are either too tight or too inflexible, making proper movement difficult. In other circumstances, muscles can become too loose, which contributes to further difficulty in movement. A child that exhibits difficulty moving around or who reaches developmental milestones later than expected may have cerebral palsy.
Fine Motor Function
Our fine motor function allows us to execute precise movements that require good coordination between the muscles of the body and the brain. Fine motor control requires both mental and physical skills, including planning and reasoning as well as coordination and sensation. If there is a delay in the development of such skills, this may signal cerebral palsy. Another common sign of this condition is the presence of intention tremors, in which a task becomes more difficult as it gets closer to completion. Some examples of fine motor function include holding small objects or turning the pages of a book.
Oral Motor Function
A lack of adequate oral motor function is often a sign of cerebral palsy. If there is difficulty using the lips, tongue or the jaw, an undeveloped oral motor function may be to blame. In fact, up to 90 percent of all preschool-aged children with cerebral palsy develop this symptom. When it comes to oral motor function impairment, the difficulties are most apparent in the case of speaking, swallowing, chewing, and drooling. These are a result of the lack of coordination between the different muscles that make up the mouth. Difficulty speaking can be especially troublesome during the earlier years of school.
In addition to all of the symptoms mentioned, people with cerebral palsy are likely to develop a host of different symptoms, including those affecting different muscles of the head and the back. Other muscles of the body may also be affected. For example, a child may feel stiff while he is being picked up. In other cases, a child may also appear floppy and loose. Some people have reported stiffness in the legs while a child is being picked up. The legs can also cross or scissor. Lastly, it may feel as if a child is pushing back while he is being picked up.
The inability to control urine function is another symptom of cerebral palsy. Many patients are unable to control their output of urine due to the increased reflexes of the bladder. As the bladder fills up with urine, it contracts uncontrollably, therefore causing a spilling of urine. This can occur during any time of the day, even at night. This symptom can cause social anxiety in many children, especially those who retain their cognitive ability, and it may be difficult for some children to participate in regular social life.