What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects movement, muscle tone, and coordination. It is caused by damage to the developing brain, usually before, during or just after birth, and can result in a wide range of physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities. Orthopaedic issues such as joint contractures, scoliosis, hip dislocation, and foot deformities are common and can impact mobility and quality of life.
These can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some common symptoms include:
Muscle stiffness or spasticity
Involuntary movements or tremors
Difficulty with coordination or balance
Problems with speech or swallowing
Orthopaedic issues are also common and can have a significant impact on mobility and quality of life.
- Contractures, or the shortening of muscles and tendons, can result in stiff joints and limited range of motion.
- Scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, can cause pain and respiratory issues.
- Hip dislocation can lead to difficulty with sitting, balance or activities of daily living and can cause pain in the long term.
- Foot deformities can cause pain, fatigue, and difficulty walking or standing for prolonged periods of time.
Diagnosing cerebral palsy can be challenging, and may not be clear until later in childhood. Doctors rely on a combination of medical history, physical examination, and developmental assessment to make a diagnosis. In some cases, additional tests such as brain imaging, genetic testing, or metabolic testing may be needed. Early diagnosis and intervention are important for optimising outcomes and reducing the impact of cerebral palsy on the individual’s life, including addressing orthopaedic issues.
Treatment for cerebral palsy focuses on managing symptoms, improving function, and maximising quality of life. Depending on the individual’s needs and goals, treatment may involve a combination of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and medications. Orthopaedic issues may require treatment with physiotherapy, bracing, casting, orthotics and/or surgery to improve mobility and quality of life.