WILLIAM Magala a physiotherapist at the
Cerebral Palsy Clinic in Mulago Hospital defines cerebral palsy as a neurological disorder in the development of posture and movement as a result of non-progressive brain damage.
Magala says the damage may occur during pregnancy, at birth or shortly after birth. He says the causes during pregnancy include a mother suffering from malaria in the early stages of pregnancy, use of wrong drugs and untreated STDs.
During birth, causes include: lack of oxygen, premature birth, induced labour, jaundice and prolonged labour. After birth causes include; cerebral malaria, meningitis, hydrocephalous (big head) and micro cephalous (small head). All the above factors affect the childâ€™s development of milestones such as: sitting, crawling, standing and walking.
When it does not involve such motor milestones it can affect other areas of the brain causing other impairments like visual loss, hearing, epilepsy, mental retardation, problems with sensation, speech and language.
Bladder dysfunction is another health problem associated with cerebral palsy, says Angelina Kakooza, a paediatrician at Mulago Hospital. Bed-wetting, stress, incontinence and dribbling are all as a result of this condition. Kakooza adds that constipation is yet another common condition which needs to be monitored.
â€œThis problem happens because the child with cerebral palsy is unable to control the abdominal muscles that push stool out of the body.â€
Richard Odoc, an occupational therapist at Mulago says two out of every 1,000 newborn children present cerebral palsy problems. Odoc says in the department of occupational therapy, about 40 cases of cerebral palsy are reported every week and about 60 to 100 new cases every month with the exception of some children who do not make it to hospital and instead seek alternative treatment at home.
Odoc says currently there is no cure for cerebral palsy. However, there is therapy, medications, surgery, rehabilitaion, nutrition and support to control the condition. By taking advantage of one or more of these options, people with cerebral palsy can learn to improve their function and the quality of their lives.
For example, if the child can not control his head and trunk, a vestibular stimulation which also helps improve balance is given. He adds that audio-visual stimulation is done for hearing and visual impairment.
The visual motor stimulation helps the child to coordinate vision and movement. Hand function trains the child how to use the hands and other functions like how to use the toilet and feeding.
Odoc says sensory motor stimulation focuses on sensation combined with the motor aspects of the child, perception stimulation is meant for recognition which deals with brain function.
In case of speech and language problems a speech therapist can work with the child to help strengthen the mouth muscles and use her tongue more efficiently.
This also helps to make meal times easier. Odoc says prior to the therapy parents or care takers of the CP children are counselled about the condition.
What causes celebral palsy?