Cerebral palsy is a series of disorders that affect an individual’s brain and nervous system. The condition is typically caused by an injury to the brain, which can occur before, during, or soon after birth. As the brain is still developing, symptoms of cerebral palsy in children often do not appear until they are two or three, but can surface as soon as three months after birth. Cerebral palsy in children can be classified as spastic, athetoid, ataxic, or mixed. characteristics of cerebral palsy in children include trouble annunciating, mental retardation, vision and hearing disorders, and seizures.
Approximately one out of every 500 births results in cerebral palsy in children. The spastic variety is the most common, occurring in more than 70 percent of children with cerebral palsy. Children with a spastic form of cerebral palsy typically have stiff and weak muscles, which can cause toddlers to walk on their toes, or with one leg swinging over the other. Under this type of cerebral palsy in children, vision may be affected with the occurrence of lazy eye or crossed eyes. Other characteristics associated with this form of cerebral palsy include severe mental retardation, seizures, and difficulty swallowing. Difficulty swallowing can lead to trouble breathing and may eventually lead to damaged lungs.
The athetoid form of cerebral palsy is less common, occurring in approximately 20 percent of children born with cerebral palsy. Children suffering from this type of cerebral palsy will often have spontaneous movement in their limbs and body. Movement may also be erratic and may become more unpredictable when they become excited. Children may also have pronounced difficulty with speech and suffer from nerve deafness.
The ataxic form of cerebral palsy is the least common, affecting nearly five percent of all cerebral palsy births. Children with this condition will suffer from muscle weakness and shaking. Toddlers will walk erratically, often with their legs spread wide apart.
Many children will also suffer from a combination of two of the types of cerebral palsy. Most times children will have the characteristics related to spastic and athetoid cerebral palsy. When children have a combination of two forms of cerebral palsy, they typically will have severe mental retardation.
Toddlers born prematurely should be watched closely to see if they develop characteristics of cerebral palsy. Children with cerebral palsy often have average or above average intelligence. However, their ability to display their intelligence may be hindered due to trouble verbalizing.