Causes of Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Many people may not know what cerebral palsy is, leaving them with many unanswered questions.   According to the Mayo Clinic, cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects movements, posture and/or muscle tone and can be caused by an injury to the brain either at birth or more often before birth.  All of the signs and/or symptoms of cerebral palsy appear either during infancy or during early preschool (ages 2-3 ).   Cerebral palsy most commonly presents itself as impaired movement and is often associated with exaggerated reflexes, rigidity or floppiness of the trunk and limbs, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, walking that is unsteady or any combination of these symptoms.

People who suffer from cerebral palsy may also have an imbalance in the muscles of the eyes, have difficulty swallowing, or may also experience a range of motion that is reduced to the stiffness in the muscles.  The effect that cerebral palsy has on the functional abilities may differ in each individual.  While some individuals may be able to walk, others may be wheelchair bound.  Some individuals with cerebral palsy may be have an intellectual disability while others function at the same level as their peers.  In addition to varying cerebral palsy symptoms, some individuals may be visually or hearing impaired or suffer from epilepsy.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, there are many different types of cerebral palsy including:

  •  Dyskinetic palsy
  •  Spastic palsy
  •  Hypotonic palsy
  •  Ataxic palsy
  •  Mixed palsy

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy occurs when the brain is injured or abnormal.  Often times, the issues within the brain occur in utero or anytime before the age of two years old; when the brain is developing.  The brain can be injured when it receives lower than the optimal amount of oxygen, called Hypoxia.  Babies, who are born prematurely have a greater chance of having cerebral palsy than full term babies.  Other possible reasons for cerebral palsy may include, but are not limited to:

• Brain infections such as meningitis, encephalitis, herpes simplex, etc.
• Bleeding occurring in the brain
• Injuries to the head
• The mother suffering from infections during pregnancy
• Severe cases of jaundice
• Mutations that are random and occur in the genes that are in control of the development of the brain
• Fetal strokes which result in a disruption or loss of blood supply to the brain during developmental stages
• Asphyxia or lack of oxygen getting to the brain that is related to difficulties in delivery or birth
• Infections contracted by the infant that may lead to inflammation around or in the brain
• Any type of traumatic injury to the head of the baby

Complexities of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a complex condition that leaves many living with the disorder, as well as family and friends, seeking answers to hard to answer questions and frustrations along the way.  While there are numerous and possible causes, many individuals living with cerebral palsy are able to live a fulfilling quality of life.

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