The first thing a parent will hear after a physician says, “Your child has cerebral palsy,” will likely be the words, “At present, there is no cure.” However, the fact that there is no cure does not mean that the diagnosis is dire. Persons with cerebral palsy have impairment, but are considered healthy. By managing cerebral palsy and maximizing potential, individuals with cerebral palsy live active, engaged, and quality lives.
Cure for cerebral palsy
Today, cerebral palsy can be managed, but not cured. The future holds promise for change.
The search for a cure for the brain damage that manifests as cerebral palsy, includes research on:
- Understanding cause and causal pathways
- Preventing brain injury and brain malformation from occurring
- Intervention measures to thwart brain injury and malformation
- Repairing brain cells to restore function to damaged areas of the brain
Recently, stem cell research shows promise. Stem cell research is being performed to ascertain whether damaged brain cells can be fixed or replaced. In an experiment conducted by neurologist Evan Snyder at Harvard Medical School, mice were injected with stem cell implants. The results of the study indicate that missing cells can be spontaneously replaced.
While it is too early to know for certain if Snyder’s results can be replicated in children with cerebral palsy, scientists are hopeful. They are working on the premise that if they can find a surefire way to manipulate damaged brain cells to heal or replenish themselves, then conditions like cerebral palsy could be treated, or perhaps reversed.
Today, while there is no cure for cerebral palsy, it is widely held that avoiding risk factors before conception, during pregnancy, during labor and delivery, and after birth helps to parent a child from developing cerebral palsy. Exposure to risk factors should be discussed with doctors to treat and manage risk properly.
Being careful to choose competent, credentialed and experienced doctors, along with stellar health care facilities – including the hospital for delivery – is also advised to avoid human error, system error, or medical malpractice. Being aware of risk factors is a first step towards awareness.
Therapy, medications, surgeries, assistive technologies and, with caution, some complementary and alternative interventions are commonly deployed to manage cerebral palsy. Not all impairment is profound as some individuals have very mild impairment that requires very little care while others may have a more severe form that requires up to and including total care. Every individual’s condition – location of impairment, level and extent of severity, and types motor impairment – is unique to the person.