Parents who have special needs children face extraordinary challenges and obstacles. This is mainly because they must tackle various issues and problems that generally do not affect other children. One condition that can prove challenging for parents is if their children have cerebral palsy, which affects muscle tone, movement, and coordination.
It generally occurs because, in people who have cerebral palsy, their brain is unable to send messages to the muscles, which is why their movement and coordination are affected to a great degree. It is also possible that cerebral palsy can affect other body functions like breathing, bladder, and bowel control, eating, and talking, as these involve motor skills as well. Cerebral palsy is not a curable condition, although if diagnosed early, it can improve future outcomes and enhance the children’s motor and cognitive effects. In addition, early diagnosis of the disease can go a long way in preventing the onset of hip dislocation, scoliosis, and contracture.
There are three different types of cerebral palsy, and a specific child may sometimes suffer from a mix of the three types. The three types of cerebral palsy include spastic cerebral palsy, which causes stiffness and trouble moving in the child.
The second type is dyskinetic (athetoid) cerebral palsy, which triggers uncontrolled movements. In contrast, the third type is ataxic cerebral palsy, which sets off a problem with balance and depth perception (judging the distance between two objects).
Although a child might have to live with cerebral palsy all their life, it is possible to improve the quality of their lives through proper treatment and medications. Also, therapy, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, can go a long way in helping them adapt to everyday life. Additionally, a whole range of special equipment is available in the market to help these children move and communicate with those around them.
Besides the above measures, parents can help their children through an improved and comprehensive diet to help children with cerebral palsy build stronger bones, as bone health is compromised in this condition. Undoubtedly, an integrated approach with doctors, dietitians, and speech-language therapists can help parents and caregivers work with their children to receive the right amount of nutrients and live a healthy and productive life.
Taking care of a child with cerebral palsy could become challenging, especially if the parent concerned is the sole caregiver. Parents might need to adjust their schedule accordingly as they require high levels of attention both at home and outside. In addition, these children might also need to visit hospitals and therapy centers at regular intervals, which is why it is advised that parents must seek help from relevant channels so that they can share this responsibility with their family and friends.
It is advised that parents of children with cerebral palsy connect with others facing the same challenges or find a local or online support group so they can tackle these challenges compellingly. There is nothing wrong with seeking help when you require it, as it will only help you do the right thing for your child and your entire family.
Dr. Jayesh Sardhara, Senior Consultant Neuro-spine surgeon
Fortis Hospital Mulund