One of the most debilitating diseases that is prevalent in our nation is Cerebral Palsy. Many have heard of it, but few of us truly understand what it is, how it happens, and how it affects those with its diagnosis. In the United States, over 10,000 babies are born each year with Cerebral Palsy, 1,500 school age children will be diagnosed with the disease a year, and a staggering 764,000 people exhibit at least one of the many symptoms of CP on average. It’s important that a crisis of this magnitude be explained to bring about awareness.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
According to the CDC, Cerebral Palsy is not just one but a group of disorders that causes multiple issues with a person’s balance, ability to move, and posture. CP is the most common disability of motor skills in children. The word “Cerebral” means having to do with the brain, neurological, and “Palsy” means problems or weakness with using the muscles. There are 4 different types of CP:
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy – Spastic is the most common type of CP and accounts for about 80% of cases of CP. Those with Spastic CP have more muscle tone, which means their muscles are very stiff and makes their movements observe to be different and stiff in nature.
- Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy – Dyskinetic CP deals with problems in controlling the movement in the feet, arms, hands, and legs. These difficulties make sitting and standing hard to accomplish sometimes.
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – Ataxic CP gives people issues with coordination and balance, making it difficult to do things like writing, reaching for something and sometimes walking.
- Mixed Cerebral Palsy – Some people experience multiple symptoms from different kinds of CP, thus calling it Mixed CP.
What Are The Symptoms?
CP can show up early in babies, even before six months of age. Some early signs in babies are:
- Baby can seem very stiff or rigid
- Baby seems to have very little muscle control, almost making them seem floppy
- Head/neck very loose when picking them up
- Legs cross or become very stiff when they are picked up
- Overextending back and neck when being held, like pushing away
In babies that are 6 months and up, some signs are:
- Difficulty bringing hands up to mouth
- Not rolling over on either side
- Not bringing hands together
- Reaching one hand out but keeping the other hand in a fist
- When mobile, scoots around on their bottom or knees, but not crawling properly using all 4 limbs.
- Tries to crawl with one arm and one leg and ends up dragging the other leg/arm behind them.
- Vision and hearing issues
- Skin problems
- Gastrointestinal pain
Are There Treatments to Help Those With Cerebral Palsy?
There is unfortunately no medical cure for CP but there have been great advancements in treatments and therapies that are helping patients in extraordinary ways. Each case is different, there are not specific treatments that help everyone across the board, but some that are making a difference are:
- Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Speech and Language Therapy
How Does Cerebral Palsy Affect Oral Care?
Cerebral Palsy itself does not cause any mouth or tooth formation issues, but the symptoms that cause trouble with motor skills and muscle control can make it extremely challenging to perform oral care. Children and adults with CP have many challenges to their oral health. From reflux to vomiting, medicines full of sugars, and excessive drooling, there is an increased risk for cavities. Due to tight and stiff jaw muscles and sensitivities with the mouth and tongue, these create limitations that can inhabit these motor skills in holding a toothbrush or being able to floss. People with CP have many challenges when it comes to brushing and caring for their teeth. What’s a good solution?
Brilliant Oral Care has a fantastic product, specifically created for those in the special needs community that struggle with maintaining their own oral care. The Brilliant Special Soft Toothbrush has the greatest amount of bristles of all their brushes and they have the softest of bristles. The brush head is round so it cleans all over the mouth from teeth, to cheeks, tongue and gums. It was created to bring soft and gentle oral care to those in the special needs community, those with underlying health issues, those facing cancer treatments, and those who face difficulty due to issues with sensory processing.
How You Can Help
There are lots of wonderful organizations that offer support to those with Cerebral Palsy and to their families. You can donate your time, your money and resources to help any of these great organizations. One is The Cerebral Palsy Foundation, https://www.yourcpf.org/ Seek out this and other CP support organizations in your area to help further awareness and bring some help and relief to those affected with Cerebral Palsy. In giving back to others do we find life’s greatest rewards!
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