Cerebral palsy, rather than being one condition, is actually a group of conditions that share similar symptoms. Sometimes abbreviated as CP, cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that appears during infancy or early on in childhood and results in lifelong muscle coordination and body movement issues. It is believed that these conditions are caused by abnormalities or damage to the brain that affects the child’s ability to control movement and/or balance and posture properly.
What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy? What parts of the brain control muscle movement and are related to this series of neurological disorders? Is there any way to improve nervous system function and restore some of the body’s ability to control its muscles? Read on to learn more about this complex condition that affects about half a million people in the US.
Early Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Since CP is a series of conditions, you can expect some of the symptoms to differ from person to person. Here are some signs that an infant or young child may be experiencing cerebral palsy.
- Ataxia – This involves a lack of motor coordination while intentionally performing movements.
- Spasticity – Reflexes may be exaggerated, and muscles are stiff or tight.
- Muscles weakness – This particularly occurs in the limbs and may affect multiple appendages.
- Gait issues – The child may walk on his or her toes, may crouch while walking instead of standing up straight, or may walk with a scissored gait.
- Muscle abnormalities – The muscles may either be too loose or too stiff.
- Mouth issues – An infant may drool excessively, have trouble swelling, or may experience speech issues as he or she develops.
- Tremors – The child may shake or experience involuntary movements that seem random.
- Motor skills developmental issues – The child may fail to reach motor skills milestones at a normal pace.
- Lack of precise motor skills – Tying shoes, butting a shirt, or other activities that require precise finger movements may be difficult.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is caused when a part of the brain responsible for movement is either damaged or does not develop properly. There are several reasons that this could occur, including:
- Brain damage – White matter is the part of the brain that sends signals. It is most vulnerable to damage while developing during gestation (weeks 26 to 34).
- Abnormal development – Trauma, infection, or other issues that interrupt the normal development of the brain can lead to palsy.
- Bleeding – When a blood vessel becomes blocked or broken and an intracranial hemorrhage occurs, this can lead to a condition called a fetal stroke. It may occur when the mother is suffering from high blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Asphyxia – If not enough oxygen is getting to the brain, this can destroy brain tissue that is needed for motor function. It can occur due to trauma or when a mother’s blood pressure gets too low during pregnancy.
How Upper Cervical Chiropractic May Help
CerebralPalsy.org discusses the potential benefits of chiropractic intervention as an alternative form of care for cerebral palsy patients. While cerebral palsy studies are limited in this regard, there are numerous case studies involving the benefits of chiropractic when it comes to gait patterns, muscle contractures, neck pain, scoliosis, seizures, and many other musculoskeletal as well as neurological conditions.
In particular, we want to take a closer look at some case studies involving upper cervical chiropractic. This is a subspecialty of chiropractic that focuses on the C1 and C2 vertebrae at the base of the skull. By facilitating proper blood flow to the brain and relieving intracranial pressure as well as pressure on the brainstem, this form of chiropractic has shown itself to be particularly beneficial for those with neurological concerns.
Cerebral Palsy Case Studies
One study involved a 5-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. The boy was also suffering from chronic ear problems, blindness, and seizures. He was confined to a wheelchair as a result of his condition. The patient went to an upper cervical chiropractor, and a misalignment was discovered. What were the results?
After just two adjustments, the boy’s constant vocal drone became an occasional moan. He was able to clap his hands for the first time. Also, the number of seizures he experienced was 1/6 of what they had been. He said dada for the first time after week three of care. By the end of week four, the vocal drone was completely gone, muscle spasms and writhing movements had ceased, he could move his neck normally, he could sit up on his own, and he stood on his own for the first time for over one minute.
By the end of week five, an ophthalmologist confirms that the boy had recovered some vision in the central field, and a neurologist confirmed that his cerebral palsy was significantly improved. By the end of 12 weeks, his seizures were gone, he was potty trained, and he could walk slowly when someone held one of his hands to assist with balance.
Another study involved two children and five adults with cerebral palsy. They too received benefits from upper cervical chiropractic care. As a result, it just makes sense for anyone suffering from cerebral palsy to see an upper cervical chiropractor. An examination with diagnostic imaging can reveal if an upper cervical misalignment exists. If it does, gentle adjustments may be able to help the patient to regain some motor function as noted in the studies above.
To learn more, contact an upper cervical practice in your area to schedule a no-obligation consultation. The consult will help you to learn if this may be a viable alternative therapy for you or your loved one.