What is Cerebral Palsy?
Commonly referred to as CP, Cerebral Palsy is considered a neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malformation that occurs while the child’s brain is under development. It primarily affects body movement and muscle coordination. Doctors classify CP according to the main type of movement disorder involved. Depending on which areas of the brain are affected, one or more of the following movement disorders can occur:
- Spasticity (Stiff muscles)
- Dyskinesia (Uncontrollable movements)
- Ataxia (Poor balance and coordination)
CP is classified as Spastic (pyramidal) and Non-Spastic (extrapyramidal).
Being the most common type, Spastic CP develops tight muscles in some parts of the body that are unable to relax. Affected joints become stiff and hard to move. Usually, a person has problems controlling movements, poor coordination and balance. The person also finds it difficult in talking and eating. It has four variations:
- Hemiplegia or Diplegia: One arm and one leg on the same side of the body (hemiplegia) or both legs (diplegia or paraplegia) are affected. These are the most common types of spastic cerebral palsy.
- Monoplegia: Only one arm or leg is affected.
- Quadriplegia: Both arms and both legs are affected. Usually, the trunk and muscles that control the mouth, tongue, and windpipe are affected too. This makes eating and talking difficult. Babies with spastic quadriplegia may have:
- Problems in sucking and swallowing.
- A weak or shrill cry.
- very relaxed and floppy body or a very stiff body. When held, they may arch their backs and extend their arms and legs.
- Be irritable and jittery when awake and startle easily.
- Sleep a lot or show little interest in what is going on around them.
- Triplegia: Either both arms and one leg or both legs and one arm are affected.
Non-Spastic (extrapyramidal) cerebral palsy includes dyskinetic cerebral palsy and ataxic cerebral palsy:
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is associated with muscle tone that fluctuates between being loose and tight. In some cases, rapid and jerky or uncontrolled slow continuous movements occur involuntarily. These movements most often affect the face and neck, hands, feet, arms, legs, and sometimes the torso.
- Athetoid (hyperkinetic) CP characteristics include relaxed and limp muscles during sleep, with some involuntary jerking (chorea) or writhing (athetosis). If the face and mouth muscles are affected, problems may develop related to unusual facial expressions, drooling, speaking, and choking when sucking, drinking and eating.
- With dystonic CP, the body and neck are held in a stiff position.
- Ataxic CP is the rarest type of cerebral palsy and involves the entire body. Abnormal body movements affect the trunk, hands, arms, and legs. Ataxic CP causes problems with:
- Precise movements – For example, the person may reach too far or too close to touch objects and may also have poor hand control (intention tremor).
- Coordination – A person with ataxic CP may walk with the feet unusually far apart.
- Hand control – Often only one hand is able to reach for an object; the other hand may shake with attempts to move it (intention tremor). The person may not be able to button clothes, write or use scissors.
Mixed cerebral palsy occurs when children have symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy. For example, spastic legs (symptoms of spastic diplegic CP) and problems with facial muscle control (symptoms of dyskinetic CP) may both develop.
Total body cerebral palsy affects the entire body to some degree. Complications of cerebral palsy and other medical problems are more likely to develop when the entire body is involved rather than isolated parts. Total body cerebral palsy may include Spastic quadriplegic CP, Dyskinetic CP or Ataxic CP.
Treatment in Ayurveda
Yes, there is a treatment for Cerebral palsy in Ayurveda. However, as this disorder is incurable, Ayurveda helps to improve the condition of the patient. According to Ayurveda, this condition is known as Phakka meaning the inability to walk or move. As per Ayurveda, there are three main energies –
Vata (Those related to movement in body blood, breath, and excretion),
Pitta (Body metabolism, digestion, temperature, heat, etc) and
Kapha (water and earth elements in our body) are responsible for a healthy life.
The imbalance of any three energies may result in health complications. Vata dosha is responsible for controlling the motor and sensory activity of the brain. Imbalance of Vata dosha is responsible for cerebral palsy as per Ayurveda.