Cerebral Palsy (CP): Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a general term that describes any disorder affecting body movement and muscle control. There are many types of CP and a variety of symptoms such as stiff contracted muscles, lack of muscle tone, lack of coordination, poor balance, and uncontrolled movements. It can affect one or two limbs, half the body, or the entire body. It can also affect a child’s ability to use their facial muscles causing difficulty eating or speaking. Children with CP can have a wide spectrum of abilities. Some children are only mildly affected, while others will have severe complications and limitations. Causes: CP is usually present at birth and can be caused by genetic mutations and maternal infections during pregnancy such as measles, syphilis or exposure to toxins as well as a traumatic birth resulting in a lack of oxygen. It can also be caused by a stroke, infection in the brain, or traumatic brain injury. Possible complications: Some children with CP are unable to walk or speak. They may also have an underlying neurological condition. Muscle weakness, muscle spasticity and coordination problems can cause abnormal bone development, arthritis, breathing disorders and malnutrition. Treatment: Children with cerebral palsy can benefit from several areas of treatment. Physical Therapy: PT can help your child strengthen and stretch weak muscle groups. This will also help with flexibility, balance, motor development and mobility. Occupational Therapy: OT can help your child use adaptive equipment such as a walker, wheelchair or cane to gain as much independence as possible. Speech Therapy: Speech-language therapy can help your child strengthen the muscles necessary to speak. A therapist may also help your child use alternative communication methods, such as an electronic communication device, if speech is too difficult. Surgery: Surgery can be used to help stretch tendons and muscles, lessoning contractures and reducing pain. Prognosis: The long-term prognosis for a child cerebral palsy depends on the cause and severity of need. Many children with CP are able to live full and independent lives.
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