The symptoms for cerebral palsy are not usually obvious just after a baby is born. They normally become noticeable during the first two or three years of a child’s life.
Symptoms can include:
- Delays in reaching development milestones – for example, not sitting by eight months or not walking by 18 months.
- Seeming too stiff or too floppy;
- Weak arms or legs;
- Fidgety, jerky or clumsy movements;
- Random, uncontrolled movements;
- Walking on tiptoes
The severity of symptoms can vary significantly. Some people only have minor problems, while others may be severely disabled.
Causes of cerebral palsy include:
- Bleeding in the baby’s brain or reduced blood and oxygen supply to their brain;
- An infection caught by the mother during pregnancy;
- Their brain temporarily not getting enough oxygen (asphyxiation) during a difficult birth;
- A serious head injury.
There is currently no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatments are available to help people with the condition have a normal and independent life as much as possible.
Treatment may include physiotherapy, speech therapy and/or occupational therapy and in some cases surgery might be a possibility to treat movement or growth problems. There are also various aids and adaptations available to make daily living less difficult.
Cerebral palsy affects each person differently and it may be very difficult to predict what the outlook will be for you or your child.
Children with cerebral palsy face a lifetime of challenges and although your child’s doctors and therapists handle much of this treatment, there are ways you can help to make your child’s life easier.
Cerebral palsy affects each person in a different way, so no two families have the exact same experience when they become involved in their child’s care. Whether your child has mild or severe cerebral palsy, there are a number of ways that you can help your child to reach their true potential.
Staying on top of their care
Your child may see a number of healthcare providers, from Paediatricians to specialists, to therapists and beyond. One doctor will probably refer your child to others for treatment and keep tabs on the care that they receive, but it is wise for you to stay informed about your child’s health to in order to ensure continuity of care which will help achieve the optimum outcome for your child.
Be your child’s at home therapist
With guidance from doctors, physiotherapists and other healthcare workers, therapy time does not have to end when your appointment is over. If you are instructed in the proper ways to help your child exercise at home, you can help them stretch their muscles, build balance and reduce pain between hospital visits. You should also encourage your child to be active, expand their mind, focus on diet and most importantly stay positive. It is also a good idea to try and get to know other parents. You are likely to meet other mums and dads during your child’s care. It can help to build friendships with parents who are faced with the same challenges.
Other parents of children with cerebral palsy might be able to offer you advice and support. They might help to lift your spirits on tough days and not only that your children may become friends.
If you would like help and support and an opportunity to meet other people we would be delighted to hear from you on our forum.