Child Neurology Consultants’ board-certified pediatric neurologist Dr. Jinfon Ong recently contributed to an article about cerebral palsy (CP) for SELF. He shared insight specifically on a form of this common condition known as spastic cerebral palsy.
Spactic cerebral palsy affects about 80% of those diagnosed with CP, and it is something we treat often in children and teenagers here at Child Neurology Consultants of Austin.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that impact how the brain communicates with muscles. It can result in serious physical challenges related to movement, strength, mobility and balance. The onset of CP often begins at birth due to circumstances like prematurity, low birth weight, or complications during delivery. All of these things can have a negative impact on the brain’s development.
Common symptoms of cerebral palsy might include:
- Muscle tightness and stiffness
- Difficulty with fine motor skills
- Weakness in arms and legs
- Challenges with breathing and swallowing
- Frequent tremors or involuntary shaking
Despite the physical challenges associated with CP, Dr. Ong points out that it is not a cognitive disorder. “Cerebral palsy does not refer to learning abilities or social development,” he says.
“You can have cerebral palsy and have normal cognitive and social development.”
What is spastic CP?
There are multiple different forms of CP, and spastic CP is the most common. The term ‘spaticisity’ means that your muscles experience resistance when trying to move them, typically in the arms or legs. This tightness, or constricting sensation, occurs in the muscles due to poor communication from the brain, and it can cause pain, cramping, spasms, and an inability to move all together.
Living with spastic CP
While there is still no cure for CP or spactic CP, Dr. Ong encourages families that your child can still lead a very rich life despite their physical differences.
“I think there is a tendency to devalue their experience because it doesn’t always follow the path of graduating from high school, going to college, getting married, getting a job, and having kids,” Dr. Ong says. “But there are many other ways to live a very fulfilling life.”
Treatments that can effectively help reduce spasticity symptoms include:
- Medications such as muscle relaxers
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Assistive devices (including splints, leg braces, walkers and wheelchairs)
- Botox injections to help muscles relax and stretch out
- Baclofen pump therapy that administers muscle relaxants directly into the body via a pump placed on the skin
Child Neurology Consultants offers our very own spasticity services for patients to receive Botox injections and baclofen pump treatments conveniently whenever needed.
More on cerebral palsy management can be found here.
Child Neurology Consultants of Austin has experience treating a wide range of neurological conditions in children and teenagers from 0 to 21 years old. To make an appointment with one of our board-certified pediatric neurologists, please contact us here.