Cerebral Palsy - Diagnoses & Fall Prevention

Cerebral Palsy - Understanding the Diagnoses

In the United States alone, cerebral palsy occurs in every 2.3-3.6 of every 1000 children along with 764,000 adults and children that are currently diagnosed with this disorder. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes explains that the most common form of cerebral palsy disorder is spastic cerebral palsy which affects around 80% of all diagnosed cases. 

With Cerebral palsy being a neurological disorder that affects a person’s movements, muscle tone, and coordination, the chances of a fall is increased greatly, and as the disorder develops, the probability of a fall that could be fatal rises due to the escalation of symptoms.

What are the Symptoms for Cerebral Palsy?

There are copious symptoms which are related to the cerebral palsy, many of which are dependent on the type and extent of the disorder, and generally speaking, differ greatly from one person to another. 

Most Common Cerebral Palsy Disorders

Spastic diplegia – The most common type. Involves muscle stiffness, generally in the leg area but the arms may be mildly affected too and can cause difficulty walking.

Spastic hemiplegia – When primarily one side of the body is involved, with movement difficulties primarily in the arm on the affected side

Spastic quadriplegia – Characterized by motor dysfunction all over the body, is the most severe type of spastic cerebral palsy, and usually comes with other associated disorders

Dyskinetic CP - The second most common type of cerebral palsy after spastic forms. It is marked by abnormal movements in the arms, hands, and legs, making it difficult to control body movements and coordination. Walking and sitting down can be difficult and muscle tone can be variable and change from tight to loose from day to day. Many have trouble controlling their face and tongue movements, resulting in difficulties with speech.

Ataxic cerebral palsy - This is the least common type of CP. Effects include difficulty walking and writing due to instability, effects speech, eye movement and swallowing. Movements can become interrupted and uncontrolled, causing a lack of balance or coordination. 

Sometimes children develop a mix of CP. A combination of dyskinetic and spastic cerebral palsy is the most common, but children can develop a mix of any type of CP. Symptoms will depend on which types of cerebral palsy the child has.

Tips for Preventing an Unexpected Fall

Adults with cerebral palsy are at a higher risk of a fall than teens and children with the disorder. This is a result of decreased mobility which starts to decline drastically during middle and older adulthood, however, people of all ages with CP can fall easily due to imbalance issues and non-voluntary movements.

To prepare for the eventuality of a fall, here are some measures that you can put in place:

Physical Therapy - Therapists can provide an array of exercises and stretching techniques to promote strength, supple joints and better balance, so if a fall occurred, the person will lower the chances of the fall being fatal as a result of the increase in strength.

Aquatic Therapy - Although this is a new concept for cerebral palsy, aquatic therapy is proving very beneficial. Results have shown to improve muscle tone and physical function for better balance and coordination. Also, it has been known to improve the person’s confidence. 

Mobility Aids - Foot, ankle-foot, spinal, knee, knee-ankle orthotics can aid children when walking and a wide range of walkers and canes can also support a person’s ability to walk independently. 

Protective Head Gear - A fall could lead to a head injury which is why it is important to protect the head from any risk of trauma. If the person is prone to falls, a medical professional may suggested that you purchase a protective helmet that can be worn daily to reduce head trauma when a fall takes place.  

For more information about prevention and care for cerebral palsy, you can find lots of support via the link below.


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