What is Cerebral Palsy? Know its causes and symptoms from expert

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s son Zain Nadella died at 26 on Monday morning. He was born with Cerebral Palsy. Many children across the world are born with Cerebral Palsy, the most common motor disability in childhood that affects the brain development or cause damage to the developing brain. It leads to abnormalities in hearing, visual disurbances, movement disorders among other complications. (Also read: What is Cerebral Palsy and how it causes damage to developing brain)

Cerebral means related to brain while palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles. The condition affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles. Celebral Palsy is a syndrome or combination of symptoms and signs with no obvious known causes for its occurrence.

“Cerebral palsy as the name indicates manifests as limb weakness (palsy) due to brain damage (cerebral). It is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the brain before birth but may also result at the time of birth or early infancy,” says Dr Prashant Makhija, Consultant Neurologist, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

A person with cerebral palsy may need lifelong care and may not be able to walk or walk with a special equipment. The symptoms are not same for everyone but all the people suffering from Cerebral Palsy have movement and posture related problems. Some of them may have trouble with impaired cognitive ability, vision, hearing, or speech and spine and joint related problems.

“Symptoms vary depending on the severity of brain damage. Spastic CP is the major type which results in weakness of the limbs along with stiffness of the limb muscles(spasticity), there may also be speech and swallowing difficulties. Some may face issues with limb co-ordination (ataxia) and some may also have abnormal limb movements. In addition to the weakness, stiffness, co-ordination and speech or swallowing issues faced by the child, additional symptoms include (not seen in all)- intellectual disability, vision and hearing problems,” adds Dr Makhija.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Celebral Palsy could also develop due to certain medical conditions that the mother might be suffering from which could pause the development and production of neurons in the brain causing problems with mobility, cognition, hearing, mental function, and socialization in the child.

“Cerebral Palsy may also be caused by the mother’s lifestyle choices, such as heavy alcohol use, drug use, or smoking, or can be linked to other medical conditions,” Dr Yogesh Kumar Gupta, Consultant- Paediatrics, Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road had earlier told HT Digital.

“The delayed gross motor development can result in difficulties in sitting, rolling over, crawling standing and so on, whereas delayed fine motor development might result in an inability to reach or hold, grasping,” says Dr Gupta.

Treatment of Cerebral Palsy

Some of the therapies for managing Cerebral Palsy are speech/swallow therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy. Depending on the severity, some interventions can be done to control the stiffness (spasticity) of the limbs- Botulinum toxin injection and anti-spasticity medications

“Early recognition of the problem and Early initiation of therapy can significantly help in overcoming the disability associated with the disease,” says Dr Makhija.


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