Cerebral palsy is one of the most common birth disabilities children suffer from. It occurs due to damage or malformation of the brain and is classified into three types: spastic, athetoid, and ataxic. About 1 in every 250 people are diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
The symptoms may vary widely and range from mild to severe, however, it’s not fatal. The disability itself is no threat to the life of the child and does not hinder your child from leading a normal life.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy In Children
The exact cause of this disorder is unknown, but certain factors have been linked to its occurrence.
- Brain injury during birth
- Maternal drug use during pregnancy
- Multiple births (twins)
- Low birth weight
What Are Some of The Treatment Options Available
The treatment options available for your child depend on the condition’s type and severity. Your doctor will suggest either a medical intervention or surgery to improve your child’s mobility and to aid him in performing daily activities independently.
Medical interventions are used when there is an underlying defect that needs correction. For instance, a baby born with low birth weight may need surgery to correct breathing problems.
Physical therapy involves exercise programs aimed at improving motor skills. Some of these exercises are performed under expert supervision, while others are easy to perform on your own.
Speech and occupational therapies are also available to help patients with communication problems or those who have difficulty walking or holding themselves upright. A Cerebral Palsy Guide can help you understand what kind of physical therapy would be best suited for your child’s needs.
Here Are 12 Tips to Take Care of a Child with Cerebral Palsy
1. Learn All You Can
Learn everything you can about cerebral palsy. Understand its various forms and learn to distinguish between them. Ask your doctor for resources that you can refer to for more information.
You should learn all you can about your child’s condition, and how to enable him/her to learn to cope with it independently.
You’ll need to know if there’s anything else that could affect your child’s progress: For example, some children with cerebral palsy have dyslexia or autism. Learning about the comorbidities will better prepare you for the future and equip you with the knowledge that can prove to be helpful for others.
2. Educate Yourself and Others About Cerebral Palsy
It’s important to educate not only yourself about your child’s condition but to also be able to explain the condition to others comprehensively.
This way, your child will have a wider network of support to fall back on. Also, all you friends and relatives will know why your child has certain limitations and be more patient with him/her.
There are different ways to do this depending on your child’s age: For example, you might want to read books written by parents with children suffering cerebral palsy to get a feel for their experiences. You can also set up a website or blog where parents can share tips and advice.
3. Create An Individualized Care Plan For Your Child
Your child’s care plan should take his unique needs into account. While your doctor might suggest certain treatments, be sure to put together a care plan that will work for your child. For example, certain children are attached to their parents, and would not benefit from expert supervision, so you should adopt a plan that suits the child’s disposition.
4. Prepare for The Future
Children with cerebral palsy cannot just wish the condition away. So, you need to be prepared for the future. Talk with your child’s doctor about what you and your child could expect in the years ahead.
What problems associated with the condition may arise later in life? Will your child need care as an adult? What will your child be able to do in the future? Make a list of things you need to talk about with your child’s doctor and schedule regular appointments to discuss the progress.
5. Be Patient And Communicate With Your Child Often
As your child grows older, she will become more independent. This is a good thing as far as the quality of life goes, but it may also increase her chances of getting hurt. Thus, it’s essential to be patient and communicate with your child often.
Spend your time with the child and show your love and affection. They need to know that they have someone who cares about them, even if they can’t express themselves verbally.
6. Work on your Mental Health
Although you might want to give your child everything they might need, you still need to take good care of yourself as well. A child with cerebral palsy may be physically disabled, but he/she is still a person worthy of respect and love.
As the parent of a specially-abled child, you need to be emotionally strong in order to deal with the stress that might come your way. Seek professional help if you are finding it difficult to cope with stress or anxiety. Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises can also help manage stress and stay focused.
7. Try Different Treatments
There are many different types of treatments available for cerebral palsy. It’s important to go through all options before deciding which ones would work best for your child. It’s also necessary to keep track of any side effects, so that you can inform your doctor about the changes.
Some medications can have harmful effects and may need to be discontinued. For example, some drugs used in treating seizures can inhibit the brain’s proper development. These drugs should be avoided if possible.
8. Encourage Your Child To Exercise
Exercise helps build muscles and improves energy levels. Exercising also increases blood flow to the body, making it easier for the brain to function. Regular exercise encourages the release of endorphins, the chemicals that make us feel happy.
Children with cerebral palsy usually have trouble with movement, so it’s important to encourage them to exercise regularly. Some forms of exercise, like swimming or horseback riding, are especially beneficial because they improve coordination.
9. Learn To Adapt To Your Child’s Needs
As your child gets older, they may experience different obstacles. They’ll struggle reading or writing. Or they might find it hard learning new skills. The only way to deal with such issues is to be flexible and open-minded.
You may not always meet your child’s needs, but you must still try to adapt to them. Be patient and understanding, and never force your child to do something that doesn’t make them happy or comfortable.
10. Get Your Child Involved In School Activities And Sports
Activities and sports are great for getting your child involved in social activities. They also teach patience, teamwork, and discipline. Your child will also learn self-confidence and independence through school and team activities.
11. Teach Your Child Self-Help Skills
Self-help skills are crucial. Teaching your child these skills early in life will help them when get older. Some examples of self-help skills include: taking care of personal hygiene, dressing, eating meals without assistance, and using the bathroom without supervision.
12. Support Your Child’s Friendships
Children with cerebral palsy need to form friendships. Studies show that having friends positively impacts a child’s mental and emotional development. However, it can be difficult for your child to maintain friendships, especially if they have difficulty communicating. You can support your child by encouraging them to hang out with friends and go to birthday parties.
Cerebral palsy isn’t a simple condition. It affects every part of your child’s life, so it requires a lot of work and effort on your part. But, at least now you know what to expect. It’s also important to remember that your child is still just a child. Don’t forget to spend time with them, laugh with them, and play with them.