by Savitha C Muppala on  August 23, 2007 at 3:17 PM Health In Focus
Enhancing Quality of Life for Victims of Cerebral Palsy
The marriage between technology and medical science has benefited victims of even rare medical conditions. The 29th of June, 2007 happened to be a memorable day in the life of Anthony, a fourteen year old, in the throes of a grave medical condition called cerebral palsy. Post surgery, Anthony is able to WALK, like most his age.

Motion Analysis, is the latest among the diagnostic tools to assist medical specialists in gauging the outcome of surgical intervention in the treatment of cerebral palsy. This technique was employed in Anthony's case to ascertain the best approach to surgery, in order that he gets the maximum benefit from the procedure. This might be a promise of good times to the estimated 500,000 victims of cerebral palsy in America alone, who are left with little option other than surgery for relief.

Dr. Scher who took an active interest in Anthony's case said, "Think of motion analysis as having 15 pairs of eyes focused on a moving body part. Motion analysis imaging shows all three planes - front, side and top down all at once. While other imaging options can show these views one by one, they can't show them simultaneously and in motion."

Today, thanks to this medical feat, Anthony is able to walk. He can let his aspirations soar, notwithstanding cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is preventable. The silver lining is, it can also be treated effectively.

Cerebral Palsy - Understanding the Condition

This is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Week (24th - 30th August 2007). Cerebral Palsy is the name given to a medical condition that arises due to a permanent injury to the brain. This injury normally occurs when the woman is expecting, or during the course of delivery, or soon after birth. Diagnosis of the condition is normally made soon after birth or in some cases in early childhood.

Research has explained the definitive link between the health conditions of the mother during pregnancy which has a bearing on the health of the child. The predominant reason for cerebral palsy is due to the inadequate supply of oxygen to the fetal brain which results in permanent damage to that part of the brain which received insufficient oxygen. Insufficient oxygen supply arises due to a number of reasons - inappropriate birth position, prolonged labor, or a problem in the umbilical cord. Premature birth of the child could also lead to this condition.

Some of the preventable illnesses behind cerebral palsy are, jaundice, rubella, Rh incongruity during pregnancy, and even lead poisoning.

Cerebral Palsy - Types

Spastic Cerebral Palsy, which afflicts more than 50% of cerebral palsy patients, denotes extremely rigid muscle tone. Therefore, its victims demonstrate jerky and shaky movements.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, known to afflict nearly 25% of cerebral palsy victims, is characterized by a mix of low and high muscle tone. Patients are seen grappling with changes in muscle tone which influences their posture. They also exhibit some involuntary movements in the upper body. For such patients, even reaching out to objects poses a huge challenge.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is characterized by poor muscle tone and improper coordination. Victims suffer problems in balance, are shaky and unsteady in their gait.

Ineffective muscle control negatively impacts clarity of speech in CP patients. Some experience difficulty in chewing and swallowing food.

Consequences of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy victims experience a number of problems, like seizures, problems with vision, hearing deficiencies, hyperactivity, spasms and even learning disorders.

Almost 50% of victims suffer some form of learning disorder. In certain cases, mental retardation cannot be ruled out. Some sufferers show a preference for certain subjects, while some others are found to be deficient in overall grasping capabilities. Some children with CP are slow learners in all subjects. Depending upon the intensity of the learning disorder, children can be supported adequately at the special school meant for such children.

Another common consequence of CP is seizures. Seizures seem to arise from the same injured region that caused CP.

Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Children with cerebral palsy usually avail the support of a special school or see a therapist who helps them with better ways to handle day to day activities. Acquiring new skills and practicing them to enhance their quality of life is the main objective of the therapy sessions.

There are different types of therapists. For example, Physical Therapists teach children to walk and balance themselves. Children are also taught important skills like riding a bike, playing with a ball, which are part of the therapy to enhance their muscle co-ordination.

Speech and Language Therapists assist children with speech problems. Communication aids are also used to help children communicate better. Objects and even computers are commonly used as communication aids.

Occupational Therapists are professionals endowed with the knowledge to help children learn better ways to make use of their hands. For example, the simple act of brushing ones teeth may be child's play for normal people, but children with CP might find this a herculean task. At such sessions, CP children are taught to practice easier ways of dressing, eating and other routine activities, so that their quality of life improves.

Suffering cerebral palsy does not mean one cannot have fun. This is where Recreational therapists come in to help. They introduce fun activities like swimming, playing games, and sometimes even horse riding. Victims are encouraged to look at life beyond their illness.

Though cerebral palsy cannot be cured, there are several effective treatment options available in the present day. With the highly evolved treatments, victims can learn to cope with the problem and still live life without giving up on it.

Source: Medindia

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