Most births in this country are uncomplicated. However, approximately 100,000 babies born each year in the United States will be diagnosed with cerebral palsy before the age of three.
Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term used to describe a multitude of symptoms that affects the cerebral area of the brain, the side of the brain responsible for motor skills and movement. Some cases of cerebral palsy can be traced to a lack of development in utero, and other cases can be attributed to damage to the brain before, during or after birth.
Of the 100,000 children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year, about 10 percent are found to be due to a birth injury. Deprivation of oxygen during the birth process and difficult deliveries are believed to contribute to the diagnosis.
Treatment of Cerebral Palsy
Current regimes for treating the disorder include physical therapy, surgical intervention and drug therapies. Although these treatments may help reduce the symptoms, currently there is no treatment available to reverse the damage. It is permanent.
Earlier this month, however, a team of researchers from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development announced that they had had some success with the use of a new drug in reversing the symptoms of cerebral palsy in rabbits. The particular type of cerebral palsy was caused by an infection the birth mother had prior to delivery. After treatment with the trial drug, researchers found that rabbits showed reversal of cerebral palsy motor symptoms within five days.
Research shows that early intervention seems to be critical to success. This need for quick diagnosis may prove to be problematic for medical professionals. Currently, children are typically not diagnosed until they are two or three when most children begin to walk.
While the new medicine is in the early development phases it offers some hope for the families of children struggling with cerebral palsy.
Source: Fox News, “Cerebral palsy drug may offer hope for treatment,” Rachael Rettner, Apr. 19, 2012.