Almost 800,000 people live with cerebral palsy in the United States alone. Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term used to describe a number of neurological disorders which cause problems for children in the womb, during delivery or just after birth. Many times these problems are not noticeable until the child's nervous system matures more fully. The problems can range from very mild cerebral palsy symptoms to severe, life altering damage. The severity of symptoms is directly linked to the amount of brain damage. Common symptoms of cerebral palsy include limited motor skills or paralysis, seizures, learning disabilities, impaired speech, problems swallowing, hearing loss and skeletal deformities.
It really depends on which areas of the brain have been damaged, but generally, one or more of the following symptoms is present; muscle spasticity or tightness, involuntary movements, disturbance in mobility or walking, difficulty in swallowing and speech problems. Additionally, there are other symptoms that are sometimes associated with cerebral palsy, such as abnormal perception and sensation, impairment of hearing, sight or speech, seizures and mental retardation. Problems that may arise due to the condition are difficulties in bladder and bowel control, eating, breathing problems because of posture difficulties, pressure sores and learning disabilities.
For a child with cerebral palsy, early detection can increase the chances for a fuller recovery. He or she may still need different types of therapy, medications and treatments for the rest of their life that may include full time, in-home care and in more severe cases, institutionalization. Some individuals were able to write with a pen or use a computer touch screen to communicate for the first time because of treatments such as Botox. Because researchers are continuously finding new information on cerebral palsy, this leaves the door wide open for the future of cerebral palsy treatment options.