Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that affects a child’s movement and muscle tone. In most cases, cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage that develops in a baby before or during or shortly after birth.
Dr Sandeep Patwardhan, HoD Paediatric Orthopaedic Department at Sancheti Hospital opined that though the disease does not progress with age, as the child grows older and taller muscles become stiff and prevents the child from their proper use.
“It affects the normal walking, sitting and standing ability , of the child . These tight muscles should be relaxed at the earliest age with the help of physiotherapy, stretching and proper trained rehabilitation . As the child grows older between 3 and 5 years usually Botulinum injections in the muscles may be given to relax the muscles and with the help of plasters we can bring the muscles to normal length,” Dr Patwardhan said.
He added, “This allows child proper placement of the feet, knees and the child may be able to stand and walk using caliper, braces and a walker. Physiotherapy remains a very important part of recovery and rehabilitation process. As the child becomes even older between 7 to 10 years the child may require first surgery to lengthen the tendons, correct deformities or stabilize joints which will allow the child to place his feet knees and hips properly and improve mobility.”
He further said, “When the child near maturity between 14-16 years, another surgery may be required for the correction of deformities and loosening of his muscles so that child may be able to walk near to normal.”
Though CP affects the brain, it causes a lot of deformity and stiffness in muscles. So the entire growing age of the child between 0 and 16 years will require some form of treatment in the form of good physiotherapy and orthopaedic treatment has a big role to play with Botolinum treatment and plasters in the small age group, small surgeries in the later age group and major surgeries in the mature age group.”
Dr Patwardhan said, “The brain usually though damaged for motor control is otherwise normal and the child can have normal intelligence and can attend normal school and is highly functional. The Orthopaedic treatment can help child become more independent and improve his ability to move around in the house or school.”
Dr Rajendra Khedekar from Center for Special Education shared information about the challenges in providing basic community infrastructure to these children. He said, “In our society children with special needs are still considered a social stigma. In reality such children need more affection so that there self-confidence is boosted and they can strive harder for their goals. The society itself needs to be more supportive which can be achieved only if the awareness for the condition improves, so we need to mass media wisely to propagate the thought.”