Cerebral palsy is a malady with a number of symptoms. Except in very rare cases, these symptoms are extremely noticeable, if for no other reason than the fact that they make everyday activities so difficult for those who suffer from them.
The Difference Between Symptoms and Signs
When it comes to cerebral palsy, it’s important to identify the difference between signs and symptoms. The former is something that is readily identifiable. Cerebral palsy has plenty of those and, while they’re not strictly symptoms, we’ll go over them below. Your child’s doctor will check for them after birth and again at their first checkup.
However, even if they don’t identify any signs, that doesn’t mean symptoms won’t emerge. Your child could have trouble moving their arm, for example, but this symptom would be tough to diagnose because, at this young age, their limbs tend to move haphazardly anyway.
Of course, if you suspect your child may have developed cerebral palsy at some point, you’ll want to bring this up to a doctor ASAP.
Someone suffering from cerebral palsy usually won’t have very good control over their muscles. This causes them to become quite toned, though. The fact that their many of their muscles are almost always flexed is also why they have such trouble moving around. When they do move their limbs voluntarily, the actions tend to be awkward.
That being said, there are some types of cerebral palsy, though fairly rare; wherein the sufferer has muscle tone that is undefined and floppy. In either case, though, the person’s musculature is obviously quite different from the kind you’d expect from someone without cerebral palsy.
Another very common symptom of cerebral palsy is involuntary movements. This may be something a doctor will notice in your child, but as we mentioned above, it can just as easily go missed for the first few months.
Depending on where the cerebral palsy affects the person, these involuntary movements could occur in the arms, legs, trunk or a combination of the three. Some people will only have these issues with one side of their body.
These involuntary movements can either be fast or slow. Sometimes, they are quick spurts, like an arm shooting in the air suddenly. Other times, it can be a slow, writhing motion. An example of this would be the sufferer’s legs “scissoring” as they cross over one another.
Between involuntary movements and the issue of muscles that stay flexed, a lot of people with cerebral palsy have a lot of trouble getting around. They may require leg braces, walkers or wheelchairs to make mobility possible. The scissoring motion we mentioned above would obviously be a problem where someone’s mobility is concerned.
Cerebral palsy can also affect a person’s ability to use their mouths. Chewing and sucking may be a challenge. This becomes a big problem when the person is hungry or thirsty. Talking, then, is a difficult endeavor for a lot of people with cerebral palsy as well.
Furthermore, their inability to even swallow can make drooling a regular feature. Even when they can chew or drink, it might be hard to swallow the food of liquid.
Neurological issues can be a symptom of cerebral palsy too. Mental health can sometimes be compromised. Some people will suffer from poor vision or difficulty hearing. A much smaller number may even have to deal with seizures and incontinence.
For the most part, problems thinking aren’t an issue. That’s perhaps the saddest part about cerebral palsy. Those who have it feel like they are prisoners inside a body they can’t control.
Cerebral palsy may have some symptoms, but the thing they share in common is how hard they are to the person trying to live with them. Now that you have a better understanding, though, it should be that much easier to empathize with their plight.