A Guide to Cerebral Palsy: Diagnosis, Treatments and more.
By R3 Stem Cell Pakistan
Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term that refers to disorders caused by developmental issues in the brain during the perinatal period. These disorders affect the individual’s ability to control their muscles. Complications during pregnancy, birth, or head trauma in infants can onset CP. It takes much longer for the symptoms to surface. However, If your child exhibits any signs of cerebral palsy contact your family doctor.
Knowing more about a medical issue and its treatments can give us the confidence and independence to make better decisions on our own. This blog article attempts to provide a full description of Cerebral Palsy diagnosis and various treatment choices for parents who are concerned that their kid may have CP.
Table of Contents
The diagnosis of the Cerebral Palsy is usually delayed till the symptoms are apparent enough. These signs can take as long as 6-12 months to display fully. Sometimes even longer in milder cases.
It is necessary to observe the perinatal stages to evaluate the child’s development and growth. This monitoring requires the parents to keep in touch with the professionals, provide proper medical and family history to the doctors and conduct physical exams of the newborn. If the doctor suspects the development of any motor or neurological issues in the child they might recommend following tests to make a proper diagnosis to find out what’s causing issues.
Brain scans are the most popular approach for determining the extent and location of brain damage. These can also tell whether or not the brain is developing normally.
Computed Tomography (CT)
The CT scan, often known as a brain scan, takes 20 minutes to create cross-section images of the child’s brain. After that, the photos are examined for cerebral palsy. The CT scan also helps to rule out any other ailments or diseases that may cause symptoms similar to those of CP.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Doctors prefer MRI to detect abnormalities or lesions because it provides a thorough 3D view of the patient’s brain. However, it takes roughly an hour to complete. It also frequently necessitates moderate sedation or general anesthesia for children. For MRI radio waves are used to produce a magnetic field that provides a comprehensive 3D image of the brain.
Though not as detailed as MRI, an ultrasound can be done during perinatal stages. It can evaluate the development or existence of any preliminary issues.
Genetic mutations are one of the reasons behind motor or muscular disorders. These Genetic or metabolic abnormalities can be detected via blood, urine, or skin tests.
EEG test captures the changes in the electrical activity of the brain. These changes are usually prevalent in patients who are prone to experience seizure attacks or epilepsy. The test is done by placing several electrodes on the patient’s head. These electrodes then detect brain activity to confirm the existence of seizures.
If the child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy your doctor might refer you to a pediatric neurologist, pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation expert, or a child developmental specialist who specializes in treating children with brain and nervous system disorders.
This team of professionals requires to test the child’s development through movement, hearing, vision, speech, and intellect testing. They may also use Gross Motor Function Classification System scale to determine the severity of CP. These testing can help the patients detect the type of CP they have and determine the appropriate treatment.
Treatment for Cerebral Palsy: Conventional and Innovative
Since Cerebral Palsy is an incurable condition, it necessitates the lifelong assistance of medical professionals. These experts help the patient in choosing the appropriate plan of treatment available for their condition. These treatments entail several traditional and innovative therapies. Some of the traditional therapies include
Patients with cerebral palsy are generally dependent on drugs to cope with muscle pain, tightness, and spasticity management. These drugs can aid with muscular function and management of complications. These medications can be administered according to the patient’s condition. some of the popularly prescribed drugs are the following.
– Oral Medication
Some of the common muscle relaxants include Valium (diazepam), baclofen, dantrolene, and tizanidine (Zanaflex). Sometimes baclofen is administered directly into the spinal cord with a tube. This is accomplished through a pump which is surgically inserted into the abdominal area under the skin.
– Muscle or Nerve Injections
Physicians sometimes recommend botox injections to aid muscle tightness. These injections are required to be administered every 3-4 months. Sometimes these botox injections can also be administered in salivary glands to reduce drooling. However, these drugs can have varying negative impacts on the patients. Including mild flu, pain at the site of injection, or serious effects like breathing or swallowing issues.
Cerebral palsy affects different sets of muscles in a patient. This is why therapies that encompass rehabilitation of different muscular, intellectual, or mental functioning can be more beneficial in the long run.
Occupational Therapy (OT):
The occupational therapist can help the patients to regain social independence. It can help them cope with school, work, or the community in general.
In the first 1-2 years after birth physical and occupational therapists can work as a team to aid the patient with issues like head or trunk control, rolling grasping, or later wheelchair assessment. Walkers, wide-based canes, standing and seating systems, and electric wheelchairs are examples of adaptive equipment that may be prescribed for your child.
Physical therapy entails muscle training and exercises that help with the restoration of movement, function, flexibility strength, balance, and mobility.
PT sessions not only benefit the patient but also the caretakers as well. They can learn how to properly manage activities like bathing, feeding, or muscle training in between sessions. A physiotherapist can also supervise the use of braces, splints, or other supportive devices to help with muscle function, such as enhanced walking and stretching stiff muscles.
Speech and Language Therapy:
Speech and language therapy can assist the patient with the ability to communicate properly through either speech or sign language. The speech-language pathologists can also teach how to use communication technologies like a computer and a voice synthesizer. This therapy can also at times aid with eating and swallowing issues.
Regular physical activity and exercises are beneficial for children’s overall health and fitness. RT includes sports or therapeutic activities like horseback riding or skiing. These recreation therapies can enhance your child’s motor skills, speech, and emotional health.
Aggravated cerebral palsy can lead to severe muscular tightness or bone deformities that can cause spasticity. These complications often require realignment with the help of surgical procedures. Following are some of the procedures a patient might require.
CP patients with severe contractions or deformities require bone or joint surgery to realign their arm, spine, knee, leg, or hip to their correct position.
Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy:
Physicians use selective dorsal rhizotomy as a “last-resort” treatment. Surgeons may cut the nerves that serve certain spastic muscles. This relaxes the leg muscles and relieves discomfort, but it can also produce numbness.
However, traditional treatments can not improve the condition of a CP for long. Treatments like surgical procedures are also extremely risky and expensive. Fortunately, the latest developments in the medical field have devised a promising treatment for patients with cerebral palsy.
Innovative treatments for CP: Regenerative Medicine
Regenerative medicine is a novel approach to treating cerebral palsy. In today’s times, it is one of the most promising treatments available for CP. Stem cell therapy is a well-known regenerative treatment that promotes the body’s inherent healing power by using stem cells. These cells are the body’s natural defense against disease, trauma, and premature aging.
For the past three decades, doctors have been studying these cells to battle different diseases. Stem cells exhibit anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, proliferative, and differentiation capabilities. These characteristics enable stem cells to treat a wide range of chronic, autoimmune, genetic, and traumatic disorders, including cerebral palsy.
Effects of Stem Cell Therapy for Cerebral Palsy:
Stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord or amniotic fluid stem cells have immunomodulatory and pluripotent properties and can be exceptionally beneficial for patients with cerebral palsy. When introduced to the CP patients these cells avoid negative immune responses by merging with provided micro-environment. This helps them to take swift actions against the damage without any interference from the immune system.
After the process of merging, stem cells self-replicate to create pools of raw unclaimed cells. These cells then detect the sites of damage and differentiate according to the requirement. Stem cells are the only cells in our body capable to evolve into various lineage-specific cells. For CP patients, the stem cells repair the damaged cells, muscles, and tissues. Not only that but the stem cells also re-establish the neuronal cells.
Following are the observed improvements that CP patients made after stem cell procedure:
– Stem cells differentiate into bone cells, joint tissues, and muscle tissues to preserve their structure. This stops bones or muscles from deforming thus eliminating the possible onset of contractures, spine curvature, or osteoarthritis.
– Stem cells also improve the tone and strength of the muscles all over the body.
– These cells differentiate into nerve fibers or neurons to improve motor or sensory functioning as well.
– Stem cells also improve the cognitive abilities of CP patients.
Regenerative medicine is a treatment that assists the body in self-restoration. Stem cell therapy introduces the body’s basic cellular material to boost the body’s ability to repair itself. As a healthy treatment, it promotes a healthy regime in patients
Physicians often recommend coupling stem cell treatment with rehabilitation routines like physical therapy and proper nutrition. It is important to inaugurate healthy habits along with the treatment for robust results.
To quickly regain postural alignment and muscular mobility, proper physiotherapy treatments are required. To balance and sustain the effects of stem cell therapy, careful nutrition programs are also recommended.
R3 Stem Cell Pakistan
In all the clinical and preclinical studies stem cells show improvement in about 85% of cerebral palsy cases. These Patients show improvements in cognitive function, and muscular and bladder control. Stem cell therapy for CP patients is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration USA at R3 Stem Cell Pakistan. If someone looking for assistance with a CP case please don’t hesitate to reach our team of experts.