Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the motor control centers of the developing brain and can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth, or after birth up to about age three. About 2% of all cerebral palsy cases are believed to be due to a genetic cause. Cerebral palsy is not an infectious disease and is not contagious. Most cases are diagnosed at a young age rather than during adolescence or adulthood.
There is no cure for CP, but treatment, therapy, special equipment, and, in some cases, surgery can help a child who is living with the condition.
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common congenital (existing before birth or at birth) disorders of childhood.
The three types of CP are:
- Spastic cerebral palsy — causes stiffness and movement difficulties
- Athetoid cerebral palsy — leads to involuntary and uncontrolled movements
- Ataxic cerebral palsy — causes a disturbed sense of balance and depth perception
Cerebral palsy affects muscle control and coordination, so even simple movements like standing still are difficult. Other vital functions that also involve motor skills and muscles such as breathing, bladder and bowel control, eating, and learning may also be affected when a child has CP. Cerebral palsy does not get worse over time.
Kids with CP have varying degrees of physical disability. Some have only mild impairment, while others are severely affected. This depends on the extent of the damage to the brain. For example, brain damage can be very limited, affecting only the part of the brain that controls walking, or can be much more extensive, affecting muscle control of the entire body.
The brain damage that causes CP can also affect other brain functions, and can lead to other medical issues. Associated medical problems may include visual impairment or blindness, hearing loss, food aspiration (the sucking of food or fluid into the lungs), gastroesophageal reflux (spitting up), speech problems, drooling, tooth decay, sleep disorders, osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones), and behavior problems.
Seizures, speech and communication problems and mental retardation are more common among kids with the most severe forms of CP. Many have problems that may require ongoing therapy and devices such as braces or wheelchairs.
Management of cerebral palsy always remained a quest for the physicians all over the world. Even with introduction of newer and better possible ways to improve the functions of the child so that the quality of life is improved but still is a challenge for them.
Ayurveda has a separate branch of clinical specialization concerning child healthcare known as Kaumarabhrutya.
Cerebral palsy cannot be correlated with any single disease or condition mentioned in Ayurveda, as it is a multi-factorial disease. Classical signs and symptoms of CP will fit into criteria of Vata vyadhi spectrum(Vata predominant disease). Hence Vata vyadhi chikitsa will prove beneficial.
Overall goal of treatment is to help the individual with cerebral palsy reach his or her greatest potential physically, mentally, and socially. It is to improve the quality of life by establishing optimal independence.
Treatment at CHARAKA for CP involves intensive Panchakarma therapy program along with researched oral medicines. Therapies like Abhyanga swedam, Nasyam, Pichu, Shirodhara, Pizhichil, Navara or mamsakizhi, Vasti are done based on the presentation and suitablity. Duration of therapy could range from 3 weeks to 5 weeks. Oral medicines will be continued for 2 - 3 years.
Repetition of therapies in small courses either individual or in combination intermittently will yield great benefit and stands as long term support for CP child.