Cerebral Palsy In Toddlers - 8 Causes, 16 Symptoms And 3 Treatments

Cerebral Palsy In Toddlers

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Congenital brain disorders in toddlers can hinder their development, and make parents terribly anxious. Cerebral Palsy is one such disorder that affects children of all ages. As a parent, you’ve probably flicked through several magazines and clicked through many web pages to learn more about the condition. Here, we provide you an overview of cerebral palsy in toddlers.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a health disorder that affects movement, posture, or muscle tone of your toddler. It occurs due to an inappropriate development of her brain before birth. The symptoms of the disorder surface during preschool years, and include impaired movements, improper reflexes, unsteady walk, and abnormal posture, floppiness of limbs and trunk, and involuntary movements. However, the right treatment at the right time can help your toddler overcome the symptoms substantially (1).

Causes Of Cerebral Palsy In Toddlers:

Cerebral palsy occurs due to disruption or abnormality in the development of your toddler’s brain. The abnormality most often occurs before birth. Even though the exact cause of the disorder is not yet clear, scientists believe in certain factors that cause cerebral palsy. Common causes include:

  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Random mutations in the fetus’ genes that regulate the brain
  • Fetal stroke that hampers the blood supply to fetal brain
  • Infections during pregnancy
  • Severe jaundice
  • Infant infections
  • Insufficient supply of oxygen during delivery
  • Traumatic head injury to the infant’s brain (2).

Symptoms Of Cerebral Palsy In Toddlers:

You may observe several different symptoms in your toddler with cerebral palsy. Common symptoms include:

  • Involuntary movements or tremors
  • Slow, uneasy movements
  • Too floppy or too stiff muscles
  • Impaired muscle tone and poor facial muscle tone
  • Lack of co-ordination
  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Poor posture
  • Difficulty in crawling and sitting up
  • Dependence on one side of the body, dragging just one leg while crawling
  • Difficulty in performing simple tasks, such as picking up a pencil or eraser.
  • Difficulty in walking normally, crouched gait, or walking on the toes
  • Difficulty in talking or no speech development till 24 months
  • Difficulty in swallowing and eating food
  • Excessive drooling
  • Learning disabilities
  • Sensory impairments (3)

If you observe any of the above signs of cerebral palsy in toddlers, see your doctor as soon as possible.

[ Read : Ways To Build Confidence In Toddlers ]

Treating Cerebral Palsy In Toddlers:

Visiting a pediatrician in time can help you treat the health disorder effectively. You can find certain effectual treatments for cerebral palsy in toddlers that can help them overcome the difficulties and perform various simple activities easily. Prominent treatments for toddlers with cerebral palsy include:

1. Medications:

The doctor may recommend medications that can alleviate the tightness of muscles, minimize pain and other complications, and improve certain functional abilities of your toddler. Drugs such as diazepam, baclofen, and dantrolene help in relaxing contracted, stiff muscles. Botox injections may treat excessive drooling. Make sure your toddler receives only prescribed doses of the medications to prevent its side effects (4).

2. Therapy:

Certain nondrug therapies can help your toddler to improve her functional abilities and overcome the difficulties resulting due to cerebral palsy. Physical therapy can help improve your affected toddler’s flexibility, motor development, walking, strength, balance, and mobility effectively. Occupational therapy helps your toddler to perform her routine activities at school and home independently. Language and speech therapy helps in enhancing your toddler’s ability to talk and communicate clearly. Speech therapy may also treat difficulties in swallowing and eating substantially. Recreational therapy can help in enhancing your toddler’s emotional well-being, motor skills, and speech (5).

[ Read : Signs Of Speech Delay In Toddlers ]

3. Surgery:

In extreme cases, the doctor may recommend surgery to correct abnormalities of bones and joints and reduce muscle tightness effectively. Orthopedic surgery can not only help treat deformities in the bones and joints of your toddler but also enable her to place arms, legs, and hips in the right positions (6).

Did your toddler suffer from cerebral palsy? How did you treat it effectively? Tell us. Share your knowledge with other concerned moms. Leave a comment below.

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Manjiri Kochrekar