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Cerebral Palsy and Multidisciplinary Pain Management - Part I
Posted on Mar 25, 2011 | Tags: pain management, the pain center of arizona, kids and chronic pain, pediatric pain management, pediatric pain, cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy affects an estimated 800,000 people in the U.S, and 3 out of every 1,000 children. It’s a condition that affects every aspect of the human body, from movement, muscle tone to developmental brain abnormalities, vision and hearing problems, and seizures. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 10,000 babies per years in the U.S. will develop cerebral palsy, and of these babies many of them will need specialized physical therapy and pain management doctors throughout their lives.


What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is cause by injury or abnormal development in the immature brain, most often before birth. Cerebral actually refers to the brain while Palsy refers to the physical aspects of the condition. Though most cases of cerebral palsy develop before birth, CP can be the direct result of a traumatic brain injury at any point in life.


Symptoms of CP occur in the first few years of life, or soon after a traumatic accident, and only worsen as time goes on. Although symptoms vary greatly, there is rarely a misdiagnosis issue with it comes to CP. The Cerebral or neurological symptoms can include difficulty with vision or hearing, seizures, abnormal pain perceptions, dental problems, and intellectual disabilities. On the Palsy, or physical, sides of things, symptoms include variations in muscle tone, ‘spastic’ or ‘rigid’ muscles, tremors, motor skill delays, favoring one side of the body, difficulty swallowing, difficulty with sucking or eating, delayed speech, and difficulty with precise motions.


While there are many types cerebral palsy, the most common is Spastic CP which includes rigid, tight and spastic muscles, muscles only functioning properly on one side of the body, or severe muscle and movement difficulties so that a wheelchair is required. Other forms of cerebral palsy include Athetoid Dyskinetic, Ataxic, Hypotonic, Congenital, or Erb’s CP.


 What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

The exact cause for many cases of cerebral palsy can be hard to pinpoint. If CP occurs in an adult, it’s easier to see that a traumatic event or accident has occurred to damage the brain, but before birth it’s hard for physicians to determine the exact cause for CP.


Cerebral Palsy is not one disease with a single origin, like chicken pox or measles. It is a group of disorders that are related but probably stem from a number of different causes. When physicians diagnose Cerebral Palsy in an individual child, they look at risk factors, the symptoms, the mother’s and child’s medical history, and the onset of the disorder. –


There are, however, common factors that may lead to the type of brain development issues that can cause CP. These predictors include drugs and alcohol, infection such as rubella, toxoplasmosis, syphilis, or chickenpox, exposure to toxins such as methyl mercury, thyroid problems, lack of oxygen or blood supply, or premature birth.  


Jump to Part II - Pain Management for CP


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