A cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect the movement, balance, and posture and muscle tone. ‘Cerebral’ refers to the disorder which is related to the brain and ‘Palsy’ refers to the weakness or a muscle problem. This problem is caused by the improper development of the brain or any damage to the developing brain that affects the person’s ability to control his or her muscles. It may be congenital or may be acquired. A person suffering from this disease have mild issues with muscle control or it could be severe or may have difficulty in speaking or any intellectual disability. Cerebral palsy can lead to other medical conditions which depend upon the severity of the disorder.
What are the types of cerebral palsy?
Spastic cerebral palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy is the commonest type of disorder that affects 80% of people. People who are suffering from this palsy have increased muscle tone. Common types of symptoms include abnormal movements, muscle stiffness, difficulty in controlling muscle movements, difficulty in moving from one position to another, delayed milestones and muscle spasm.
Spastic quadriplegia is the most severe type of cerebral palsy that can affect child’s lower and upper limbs and the child is unable to walk. The child also experiences chronic seizures and have difficulty with hearing and speech.
Another form is spastic diplegia but it is not as severe as spastic quadriplegia. This palsy mostly affects the lower half of the body. Children usually walk on their toes and have issues with balance and coordination because of tight leg and hip muscles. Other common symptoms are fatigue, seizures, delayed milestones etc.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain’s basal ganglia which is responsible for transferring messages to the body. It is the second commonest type of cerebral palsy. Symptoms include difficulty in swallowing or talking, awkward posture, repetitive and twisting motions etc.
Ataxic cerebral palsy
Ataxic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy disorder. The word ataxia means “Without order”. This palsy is marked by poor coordination and balance, shaky movements and tremors that are difficult to control.
Mixed cerebral palsy
Mixed cerebral palsy is characterized by two or more types of disabilities. Children may exhibit a combination of various symptoms.
What are the causes of cerebral palsy?
Damage to the upper part of the brain (called as cerebrum) before, during and within 5 years of birth can cause cerebral palsy. This part of the brain is also responsible for memory, learning ability, and communication skills. Damage to this part have problems with communication and learning. It can sometimes affect hearing and vision.
Abnormal development of the brain
Abnormal development of the brain can affect the way the brain communicates with the muscles of the body. During the first 6 months of pregnancy, the embryo’s brain is vulnerable.
Brain damage after birth
Damage to the brain can happen because of an infection such as meningitis, head injury or poisoning.
Bleeding inside the brain can happen due to any intracranial hemorrhage. It can stop the supply of blood to vital brain tissue that can damage the tissues
Several other factors that can cause stroke
- A blood clot in the placenta blocks the blood flow
- Clotting disorder in the fetus
- Pelvic inflammatory infection in the mother
- Pre-eclampsia in the mother remains untreated
Risks increased during delivery
- A prolonged second stage of labor
- Use of vacuum extraction during delivery
- Umbilical cord abnormalities
- Fetal heart anomalies
Other factors that may contribute to a higher risk of cerebral palsy
- Damage of placenta
- Sexually transmitted infections
- Multiple Births
- Consumption of alcohol or any toxic substances during pregnancy
- Breech delivery
- Small pelvis in the mother
What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?
A person with cerebral palsy may have muscular problems, including poor muscle tone.
- Underdeveloped or overdeveloped muscles that may lead to floppy movements
- Poor balance and coordination
- Muscle stiffness
- Limited range of movement
- Crawling in an unusual way
- Hearing and sight problems
- Problems with swallowing, feeding, and sucking
As per the Ayurveda aspect
Cerebral palsy is correlated with Phakka Roga in Ayurveda. This roga resembles with poor physical development and impaired psychomotor changes.
Phaka roga is of three types Kshiraja Phakka, Garbhaja Phakka, and Vyadhija Phakka. There is an obstruction in the rasa vaha strotas which result in phaka roga.Phakka roga is a disease which is characterized by difficulty in walking in growing children. Malnutrition leads to the improper formation of Rasa, mamsa, meda and asthi dhatu. This disease is classified under Kuposhanajanya vyadhi.
Nidana Grahni dosha, Agni dosha, bahubhojana, lack of exercise and malnutrition.
Samprapti Agni dosha affects the process of digestion, metabolism and absorption thus body tissues become nutrients deficient which result in atidrava mala pravrutti Excessive loose stools, atimutrata (excessive urination) and improper utilization of ahara as are the symptoms of Agni dosha.
Herbs useful in cerebral palsy
Ashwagandha possesses natural rejuvenating properties for the body. This herb is helpful in relieving all types of nervous system related disorders such as Bell’s palsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and paralysis. It is also useful in relieving stress, weakness, and fatigue.
Brahmi has a positive effect on the nervous system. This herb acts as a brain tonic that enhances normal brain activity and reduces pain and stiffness in the affected area. It also pacifies Vata Dosha.
Turmeric provides relief from pain and stiffness. This herb has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-oxidant properties.
Amalaki balances all the three doshas. This herb acts as a tonic in maintaining the vision, skin complexion, physical strength, etc. It is one of the intelligence promoter herb and increases the lifespan of an individual. It also promotes virility.
Nirgundi is known for its vata balancing disorders which is the controller of all nervous system activities. This herb provides strength to the nerves and also has an anti-inflammatory property which helps to reduce inflammatory conditions.