What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder created by brain damage that primarily affects nerves and muscles that control body movement and function. The condition includes but is not limited to motor skill problems and other physical challenges resulting from a brain injury or abnormal brain development that takes place during fetal growth, at the time of birth, or within the first 2 or 3 years of a child’s life. In some instances oxygen is cut off to the brain when the umbilical cord wraps around the child’s neck prior to birth. Some children and adults with CP have seizures, convulsions and significant gait issues. Although cerebral palsy is permanent, the condition is not progressive like Lou Gehrig’s disease or some forms of Multiple Sclerosis .CP can affect muscles one side of the body only or the entire body. Uncontrolled reflex movements and muscle tightness (spasticity) occur with varying degrees of severity. Virtually all cerebral palsy (CP ) sufferers have problems with body movement and posture, although the degree of physical impairment varies. Some people with CP have only a slight limp or a problems walking. Others have little or no control over their arms and legs or other parts of their body, such as their mouths and tongues. People with severe forms of cerebral palsy are more likely to have other problems, such as seizures, convulsions or mental retardation.Babies born with severe CP may have a floppy or (conversely) a very stiff body. Birth defects such as an irregularly shaped spine (scoliosis), an abnormally small jawbone or head (microcephaly) sometimes is seen.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy (CP) is classified according to the type of body movement and posture problem:
Spastic (pyramidal) Cerebral Palsy
CP -related or brain palsy spasticity refers to a tightening of affected muscles without the ability to fully relax them. Affected joints become stiff and thus difficult to move. Spasticity is associated with difficulty controlling movements in parts of the body, usually the arms and legs which can cause poor coordination and balance (spastic ataxia), as well as difficulty talking and eating.
There are four types of spastic CP. grouped according to how many limbs are affected.
- 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. Monoplegia is usually a variation of diplegia or hemiplegia.
- Quadriplegia. Both arms and both legs are affected. Usually the trunk and muscles that control the mouth, tongue, and windpipe are affected as well which makes eating and talking difficult. Infants with spastic quadriplegia may:
- Have a weak or shrill cry.
- Have problems sucking and swallowing
- Have a very relaxed and floppy body or conversely a very stiff one. When held, they may arch their backs and extend their arms and legs and even shake noticeably.
- Become 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. Triplegia may be a variation of quadriplegia.
Nonspastic (extrapyramidal) Cerebral Palsy
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is associated with muscle tone that fluctuates between being loose and tight. In some cases, there are involuntary movements of the limbs, face, or torso.
- Athetoid (hyperkinetic) CP is characterized by very limp muscles during sleep along with some involuntary jerking (chorea) or writhing (athetosis). If the face and mouth muscles are affected, problems may develop such as unusual facial expressions, drooling, speaking, and choking when sucking, drinking, and eating.
- Dystonic cerebral palsy is when the body and neck are held in a stiff position.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy is the rarest type of cerebral palsy and involves the entire body. Abnormal body movements affect the trunk, hands, arms, and legs. Ataxic cerebral palsy causes problems with:
- Precise movements. People with ataxic CP may reach too far or too close to touch objects and may also have poor hand control (“intention tremor”).
- Coordination. The ataxic CP patient may walk with their feet unusually far apart.
- Hand control. Often only one hand is able to reach for an object, while the other hand may shake when attempts are made to move it (“intention tremor”). The cerebral palsy afflicted child or adult may not be able to button clothes, write, or use scissors.
Some children have symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy. For instance, some have spastic legs (symptomatic of spastic diplegic cerebral palsy ) and problems with facial muscle control (symptomatic of dyskinetic cerebral palsy).
Whole body cerebral palsy affects the entire body to some degree. Complications and other medical problems are more likely to develop when the entire body is involved rather than isolated limbs or parts. Total body cerebral palsy may include any of the following:
- Spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy
- Ataxic cerebral palsy
The origins, nature and treatment of Cerebral Palsy
CP is an acquired birth defect or acquired birth injury that arises when the brain fails to develop normally due to being deprived of blood (cerebral hypoxia ), oxygen, or even some nutrients. In some cerebral palsy patients an infection or accident injures their brain. Although the exact cause usually is difficult to determine, brain injury related to being born prematurely often is involved.
The condition is difficult to diagnose because babies nervous systems grow and develop rapidly. Sometimes an infant will show cerebral palsy symptoms which turn out to be the result of an immature nervous system and are soon outgrown. In other children, the problems may be related to some other medical condition. An infant who has signs of motor skill problems may need evaluation over many months to a few years before a diagnosis can be made.
There is no cure for cerebral palsy (CP). Thankfully, it does not get worse over time and symptoms sometimes moderate with therapy and changes in the body and brain wrought by the aging process, puberty and so forth. The standard medical approach to care for CP focuses on managing symptoms, sometimes with medications or injections of Botox, and maximizing abilities with physical therapy and other special training. Those with cerebral palsy may need special kinds of health care and therapy throughout their lives to prevent or treat complications.
Is the standard-of-care all that can be done for children and adults with CP? Not at all. Dr. Steenblock. who pioneered the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat brain damage due to acute stroke and traumatic brain injury as part of a comprehensive, wholistic treatment program, used this modality to treat CP beginning in the early 1990s. This produced some impressive, sometimes remarkable improvements in those so treated but Dr. Steenblock knew there had to be more that could be done. The “more” turned out to be adult (nonembryonic) stem cells.
Stem Cells and Cerebral Palsybit.ly/uOoDs bit.ly/aJWGWa .
Now here is something CerebralPalsureCure readers should know: At least five (5) years before either Duke or the Medical College of Georgia embarked on their work, children and infants with CP were being treated with pure cord blood stem cells in Mexico by Fernando Ramirez, MD and his medical team. During 2004-5 Dr. Ramirez conducted a pilot study involving eight (8) children with CP who received injections of cord blood stem cells; a study spearheaded by Ramirez program consultant Dr. David Steenblock and his team of advisers and support personnel at his nonprofit research center (Steenblock Research Institute).
This study was published in the free access journal Medical Hypotheses & Research during 2005 (Click to access ).
Dr. Steenblock is still called on to provide input to various reputable clinics doing umbilical cord stem cell therapy in Mexico and elsewhere. However, beginning around 2006 he began harvesting and giving patients including (eventually) those with cerebral palsy their own stem cell-rich bone marrow. This approach turned out to an especially fruitful one.
Whole stem cell-rich bone marrow treatments for CP
To understand why bone marrow stem cells can help CP it is important to know a little about the nature of bone marrow and its stem cells.
Human bones house and protect stem cell-rich tissue in their interior which is responsible for the production of new red blood cells as well as key immune system support cells called leucocytes (white blood cells). In addition, bone marrow stem cells participate in the repair and growth of bodily tissues throughout life.
Bone marrow also contains another type of stem cell called a stromal stem cell which is also called a MESENCHYMAL STEM CELL (MSC). These stem cells are support cells that help hematopoietic stem cells in their continuous production of blood cells. In other words, they are like the machinery of a factory and are essential to the output (of blood cells) by that factory.
But these bone marrow stem cells do much more. They enter the central nervous system were they generate new neurons and support the repair of damaged ones. In an article titled “Bone marrow generates new neurons in human brains ” the results of a government sponsored study are discussed. One of the study authors,