Epilepsy – Complex Partial Seizures

Overview

A complex partial seizure is also known as a focal impaired awareness seizure or a focal onset impaired awareness seizure. This type of seizure starts in a single area of the brain. This area is usually, but not always, the temporal lobe of the brain.

While it’s most common in people with epilepsy, this type of seizure has been known to occur in people with cerebral palsy. It includes uncontrolled movement of limbs or other body parts. These seizures are usually very short, and the person having the seizure will be unaware of their surroundings. They may also become unconscious for a brief period of time.

Complex partial seizures and epilepsy

For those with epilepsy, this is the most common type of seizure. But while complex partial seizures are often related to epilepsy, this is not the only reason for someone to have seizures.

Symptoms of complex partial seizures

A complex partial seizure can have multiple possible symptoms. However, these symptoms may occur during one seizure and not another. Complex partial seizures normally only last a few minutes. Seizures beginning in the frontal lobe area of the brain are usually shorter than those that start in the temporal lobe area.

Symptoms will often start abruptly, and the person experiencing the seizure may not know they have had one. The person may:

  • stare blankly or look like they’re daydreaming
  • be unable to respond
  • wake from sleep suddenly
  • swallow, smack their lips, or otherwise move their mouth repetitively
  • pick at things like the air, clothing, or furniture
  • say words repetitively
  • scream, laugh, or cry
  • perform actions that can cause potential danger to themselves, like walking in front of moving cars or removing all or portions of their clothing
  • perform movements like they are riding a bicycle
  • be unaware, either partially or totally, of their surroundings
  • hallucinate
  • try to hurt themselves
  • experience confusion when the seizure ends
  • be unable to remember the seizure when it’s over

Causes of complex partial seizures

While epilepsy is one of the most common causes, there are other conditions that can cause a complex partial seizure. Some of these conditions are:

  • psychological distress or trauma
  • neurologic conditions
  • extreme stress
  • anxiety and depression
  • autism
  • other medical conditions related to the brain
  • damage caused prior to birth
  • neurofibromatosis

Common triggers

A complex partial seizure can happen anytime and usually without much warning. They can even occur when the person is in the middle of an activity. Sometimes the person will have an aura right before having a complex partial seizure. An aura is also called a simple partial seizure. It can act as a warning signal that a bigger seizure is coming.

There are some additional factors that can trigger a seizure, including:

  • flashing lights
  • low blood sugar
  • high fever
  • reactions to some medications

Diagnosing a complex partial seizure

Before deciding on treatment, a doctor will need to confirm that a person is having complex partial seizures. The doctor will need as many details as possible from the person having the seizures as well as from someone who has seen these episodes on a number of occasions. The doctor will need to know what happens before, during, and after each episode.

If a doctor suspects a complex partial seizure, they will usually order a diagnostic test to confirm. An electroencephalogram (EEG) may be done initially. However, the EEG will usually need to record a seizure to be accurate. Other tests that may be given to look for any potential cause of the seizures are a CT scan and an MRI. A blood test and neurological exam may be done as well. These may help the doctor find a cause (if there is a recognizable cause) without seeing an actual seizure while testing.

How are they treated and managed?

There are various types of treatment for complex partial seizures once the condition has been diagnosed. The following are some of the possible treatment options:

The type of treatment used is determined by the cause of the seizures, other medical conditions, and other factors.

Associated health conditions

A complex partial seizure can happen to anyone. However, there are some medical conditions that are more prone to these types of seizures. These medical conditions include:

  • epilepsy (most common)
  • cerebral palsy
  • infection in the brain
  • brain injury
  • tumor in the brain
  • stroke
  • some heart conditions

Sometimes a complex partial seizure will happen to someone without any known medical conditions. There is not always a cause that can be determined in some cases of complex partial seizures.

Outlook

Once diagnosed, seizures — including complex partial seizures — can be managed through a variety of treatment options. In some cases, children will outgrow the seizures.

If you think that you or someone you know is having seizures, it’s important to talk to a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

You should contact a medical professional immediately if someone you know is having a seizure and any of the following is true:

  • this is the person’s first seizure
  • the seizure lasts more than five minutes
  • the person has a high fever
  • the person does not become conscious after the seizure is over
  • the person has diabetes
  • the person is or might be pregnant

Pet Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

Pet therapy, or animal-assisted therapy, is a great way for children with cerebral palsy to get greater benefits from physical therapy sessions as well as other types of treatment. Working with animals is proven to be beneficial in many ways and, when added to standard therapies, can help children meet their goals.

Parents should be cautious about choosing therapists and animals that are trained and licensed and have experience working with children with cerebral palsy.

What is Pet Therapy?

Also referred to as animal therapy or animal-assisted therapy, pet therapy is the use of specially trained animals to promote wellness, boost mood, aid therapy, and other broad uses in mental and physical health care. [1]

Pet therapy can be informal, such as when a therapy dog visits a nursing home or hospital to cheer up residents and patients, or it can be more formal with guided therapy sessions that include the animal as a central aid or participant.

Dogs are most commonly used in pet therapy, but all kinds of animals may be involved including cats, horses, and even guinea pigs. A study published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health indicated that “individual and social benefits gained by dog-assisted therapy may aid in the prevention, improvement and development of children with various disabilities.” [2]

Specific situations in which pet therapy may be used include chemotherapy sessions, dental work and other potentially scary or stressful procedures for children, or even adults, physical therapy to rehabilitate from an injury or a stroke, mental health therapy sessions, or for residents in long-term care facilities.

Pet therapy is also commonly used to assist children with disabilities, including cerebral palsy.

The Benefits of Working with Animals

For anyone, including children with special needs, there are proven benefits of working with animals of all types in unstructured or more formal settings. For mental health, being around animals and interacting with them has been proven to lower anxiety, increase relaxation, reduce loneliness, provide comfort, and increase mental stimulation. [3]

These benefits alone are helpful, but they are also useful in breaking the ice or any initial resistance or fear about going through a therapy session.

There are also physical benefits of working with animals, which include lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving cardiovascular health, and reducing pain. Petting and being around animals has been shown to increase hormones like serotonin and reduce others, like cortisol, which together promote less stress in the body. Pet owners are known to live longer than people who do not have pets in the home.

Animal-Assisted Physical Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

One important use of animals for children with cerebral palsy is to assist with physical therapy. Physical therapy is an important aspect of treatment for most children with cerebral palsy because it helps with muscle tone and balance, mobility, pain reduction, and other physical issues. There are a number of reasons to have an animal in the therapy session, including:

  • Working with animals during physical therapy helps children meet their goals.
  • Therapy sessions are less stressful and children are more engaged and enthusiastic about doing the work.
  • Animals provide physical support to help children perform exercises.
  • Children are often more willing to use the animal than an object for support.
  • Animals motivate children to work harder, to meet their goals, and to return for subsequent sessions.

Pet Therapy Promotes Mental and Emotional Health

The role of animals in helping children with cerebral palsy is not limited to physical health and mobility. Children with cerebral palsy often struggle with mental health issues and behavioral challenges. For instance, ADHD, depression, and anxiety are common coexisting conditions.

Working with animals can help improve mood, reduce anxiety, and reduce stress. Animals can also provide many of the same benefits in behavioral therapy sessions as they do in physical therapy: motivation, support, encouragement, and someone to bond with and help a child be more engaged and enthusiastic about treatment[4]

Other Benefits of Pet Therapy for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Physical benefits and mental health benefits are important aspects of pet therapy, but children with cerebral palsy can also get other benefits from working with animals. One study of disabled children with cerebral palsy set goals for therapy and used trained dogs to assist.

The children previously were all unable to complete standard therapy sessions, but all completed the animal sessions and met their goals. The animals were able to help them break down resistance and fear and to carry on with successful therapy sessions.

These children also saw improvements in communication, becoming better able to tell others what they need or want. They developed greater empathy from working with the dog and were better able to ask for help and provide help to others as a result. Their social skills improved thanks to these benefits they received from working with animals.

Specialized Types of Animal Therapy

Dogs are often used as therapy animals because of how easy they are to train and their love of people, but other animals can be trained to work with special needs children as well. Two interesting options for children with cerebral palsy include equine therapy and dolphin therapy.

Equine therapy is working with horses, which may include riding, petting, or actually caring for horses. Exactly what happens in the sessions depends on an individual’s goals, but working with horses has the added benefits of getting children outside and improving self-confidence.

Dolphin therapy is not common, but it is practiced in some specialized settings. Sessions with trained dolphins can provide many of the same benefits as other types of animal therapy, but there are additional potential benefits.

For a child with mobility issues and pain, as are common with cerebral palsy, it can be easier to work in the water. However, dolphin therapy is relatively new and there is little available evidence that it helps. The number of facilities offering this expensive therapy is growing, and parents should be cautious and only work with those that are staffed by trained and licensed therapists.

Therapy Animals in the Hospital

Children with cerebral palsy may have to spend time in the hospital for treatments, for surgery, and for recovery after surgery. Informal visits from pet therapy programs can help these children feel more relaxed in a stressful environment.

They provide comfort, reduce anxiety, make the hospital setting feel more like home, and offer a feeling of love and acceptance for children who are struggling. They can also help children communicate with and relate better to doctors and nurses.

Pet therapy can be a great way for children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities to get more out of their therapy sessions. From meeting physical therapy goals for mobility to learning how to better socialize and be more engaged with treatment, animals can provide a number of benefits for children with special needs.

As long as parents are careful to select services with trained, experienced, and licensed therapists and animals, pet therapy can be a great addition to a child’s treatment plan.

Cerebral Palsy in Children

WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY?

Cerebral Palsy is a term used to cover several neurological conditions.

These conditions are caused beforeduring or shortly after birth as a result of injury to the brain due to any of the following reasons:Limited or interrupted oxygen supply to the brainA bleed within the baby’s brain
A premature or difficult birth processThe mother catching an infection whilst pregnantChanges in genes which affect the development of the brain 
Cerebral Palsy can affect muscle control, coordination, and tone, reflexes, posture and balance. Often a person with Cerebral Palsy will display signs of the condition, but the effects can vary greatly from person to person
‘Cerebral Palsy’ comes from the Latin words ‘Cerebrum’ and ‘Paralysis’

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CEREBRAL PALSY?

The NHS describes three different categories of Cerebral Palsy, it is also possible to have a combination of categories which is referred to as ‘Mixed Cerebral Palsy’.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy
This affects muscle stiffness or weakness. Click here to learn more.
Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
This affects muscle tone, causing involuntary spasms. Click here to learn more.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
This affects balance and coordination. Click here to learn more.

The affect Cerebral Palsy has on individuals ranges from the very mild, to more severe cases that can make it difficult for people to control their limbs.

How Dyspraxia Differs from Other Development Delays in Children

Dyspraxia definition

Dyspraxia is a brain-based motor disorder. It affects fine and gross motor skills, motor planning, and coordination. It’s not related to intelligence, but it can sometimes affect cognitive skills.

Dyspraxia is sometimes used interchangeably with developmental coordination disorder. While some doctors may consider these separate conditions, due to a lack of formal definition, others consider them the same.

Children born with dyspraxia may be late to reach developmental milestones. They also have trouble with balance and coordination.

Into adolescence and adulthood, symptoms of dyspraxia can lead to learning difficulties and low self-esteem.

Dyspraxia is a lifelong condition. There’s currently no cure, but there are therapies that can help you effectively manage the disorder.

Dyspraxia symptoms in children

If your baby has dyspraxia, you might notice delayed milestones such as lifting the head, rolling over, and sitting up, though children with this condition may eventually reach early milestones on time.

Other signs and symptoms can include:

  • unusual body positions
  • general irritability
  • sensitivity to loud noises
  • feeding and sleeping problems
  • a high level of movement of the arms and legs

As your child grows, you might also observe delays in:

Dyspraxia makes it hard to organize physical movements. For example, a child might want to walk across the living room carrying their schoolbooks, but they can’t manage to do it without tripping, bumping into something, or dropping the books.

Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • unusual posture
  • difficulty with fine motor skills that affect writing, artwork, and playing with blocks and puzzles
  • coordination problems that make it difficult to hop, skip, jump, or catch a ball
  • hand flapping, fidgeting, or being easily excitable
  • messy eating and drinking
  • temper tantrums
  • becoming less physically fit because they shy away from physical activities

Although intelligence isn’t affected, dyspraxia can make it harder to learn and socialize due to:

  • a short attention span for tasks that are difficult
  • trouble following or remembering instructions
  • a lack of organizational skills
  • difficulty learning new skills
  • low self-esteem
  • immature behavior
  • trouble making friends

Dyspraxia symptoms in adults

Dyspraxia is different for everyone. There are a variety of potential symptoms and they can change over time. These may include:

  • abnormal posture
  • balance and movement issues, or gait abnormalities
  • poor hand-eye coordination
  • fatigue
  • trouble learning new skills
  • organization and planning problems
  • difficulty writing or using a keyboard
  • having a hard time with grooming and household chores
  • social awkwardness or lack of confidence

Dyspraxia has nothing to do with intelligence. If you have dyspraxia, you may be stronger in areas such as creativity, motivation, and determination. Each person’s symptoms are different.

Dyspraxia versus apraxia

Though these two terms sound familiar and are both brain-based conditions, dyspraxia and apraxia are not the same.

Dyspraxia is something that someone is born with. Apraxia can develop following a stroke or brain injury at any point in life, though certain types may have genetic components.

There are several types of apraxia which affect different motor functions. It’s often thought to be a symptom of a neurological, metabolic, or other type of disorder.

Apraxia may go away on its own within weeks, especially if it’s the result of stroke.

It’s possible to have both dyspraxia and apraxia.

Dyspraxia causes

The exact cause of dyspraxia isn’t known.

It could have to do with variations in the way neurons in the brain develop. This affects the way the brain sends messages to the rest of the body. That could be why it’s hard to plan a series of movements and then carry them out successfully.

Dyspraxia risk factors

Dyspraxia is more common in males than females. It also tends to run in families.

Risk factors for developmental coordination disorders may include:

It’s not unusual for a child with dyspraxia to have other conditions with overlapping symptoms. Some of these are:

Although some symptoms are the same, these other conditions don’t involve the same fine and gross motor skill issues of dyspraxia.

Other conditions like cerebral palsymuscular dystrophy, and stroke can cause physical symptoms similar to dyspraxia. That’s why it’s so important to see a doctor to get the correct diagnosis.

Diagnosing dyspraxia

The severity of symptoms can vary a lot from child to child. It may not be apparent that your child isn’t developing certain skills for several years. A diagnosis of dyspraxia may be delayed until a child is 5 years or older.

If your child often runs into things, drops things, or struggles with physical coordination, it doesn’t mean they have dyspraxia. These symptoms could be a sign of a number of other conditions — or nothing at all.

It’s important to see their pediatrician for a thorough evaluation. A doctor will assess such factors as:

  • medical history
  • fine motor skills
  • gross motor skills
  • developmental milestones
  • mental abilities

There are no specific medical tests to diagnose dyspraxia. The diagnosis may be made if:

  • motor skills are significantly below what’s expected for their age
  • a lack of motor skills has a persistent negative effect on day-to-day activities
  • symptoms began early in development
  • other conditions with similar symptoms have been ruled out or diagnosed

Dyspraxia is more often diagnosed as developmental coordination disorder (DCD).

Dyspraxia treatment

For a small number of children, symptoms resolve on their own as they age. That’s not the case for most children, though.

There’s no cure for dyspraxia. However, with the right therapies, people with dyspraxia can learn to manage symptoms and improve their abilities.

Because it’s different for everybody, treatment must be tailored to individual needs. The treatment plan will depend on a number of factors. The severity of your child’s symptoms and other coexisting conditions are key to finding the right programs and services.

Some of the healthcare professionals you may work with are:

  • behavior analysts
  • occupational therapists
  • pediatric specialists
  • physical therapists
  • psychologists
  • speech and language therapists

Some children do well with minor interventions. Others need more intense therapies to show improvement. Whatever therapies you choose, they can be adjusted along the way.

Your healthcare team can help identify problem areas. Then they can work on breaking tasks down into manageable pieces.

With regular practice, your child can learn how to better manage tasks such as:

  • tying shoes or self-dressing
  • using eating utensils properly
  • using the toilet
  • walking, running, and playing
  • organizing an approach to schoolwork

Therapy can help your child gain confidence, which may also help them socially. Your child’s school can provide special services and accommodations to make learning easier.

Adults can benefit from occupational therapy as well. This can help with practical, everyday matters involving small motor skills and organizational skills.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or talk therapy, can help modify thinking and behavior patterns that shake your confidence and self-esteem.

Even if you have physical difficulties, it’s still important to exercise regularly. If this is a problem, ask a doctor for a referral to a physical therapist or look for a qualified personal trainer.

Takeaway

Dyspraxia is a developmental coordination disorder. This lifelong condition affects gross and fine motor skills, and sometimes cognitive function.

It shouldn’t be confused with an intellectual disorder. In fact, people with dyspraxia can have average or above average intelligence.

There’s no cure for dyspraxia, but it can be successfully managed. With the right therapies, you can improve organizational and motor skills so you can live life to the fullest.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form of the disorder, affecting around 70% to 80% of all people diagnosed. This form of cerebral palsy mainly affects the muscle groups, but may cause associated disorders as well. [1]

Spastic cerebral palsy occurs as a result of brain damage, usually before or during birth, or sometimes within the first years of a child’s life. It’s a disorder that affects coordination and control of motor function. This causes the child to be delayed in reaching normal developmental milestones, and that is when it becomes more evident. [2]

Muscles need enough tone in them to maintain correct posture, to enable standing and walking, and to maintain speed and flexibility. Motor nerve fibers, via the spinal cord, interact with the muscles to help control how they move.

For someone with spastic cerebral palsy, brain damage affects muscle control, coordination, and movement, mainly in the arms and legs. In turn, this influences the way the spinal cord and nerves react, which then causes the muscles to become tense, and spastic. [3]

Children born with spastic cerebral palsy do not usually have limb deformities at birth, but over time these may develop, due to muscle tenseness and stretching limitations.

Spastic cerebral palsy may be classified as quadriplegic, diplegic, or hemiplegic, according to how and where it affects the body.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

Spastic cerebral palsy, also known as hypertonic cerebral palsy, is characterized by hypertonia, meaning increased muscle tone, and leads to stiff, and sometimes painful limbs. [4]

Symptoms may include:

  • Involuntary limb movements
  • Continuous muscle spasms and contractions
  • Abnormal walking, marked by knees crossing in a scissor-like movement
  • Joint contractures
  • Limited stretching abilities
  • Flexion at the elbows, wrists, and fingers
  • Poor coordination and control of muscle movements

These symptoms can make it difficult for those with spastic cerebral palsy to walk, get dressed, brush their teeth, use the bathroom, and take a shower without assistance. The limitations on activities of daily living (ADLs) will depend on how severe the disorder is. Children with mild cases of spastic CP may not need any help but may still have mild difficulties with ADLs.

If both legs are affected, children may also have problems transferring from one position to the next, standing and sitting upright, walking, and running.

Children with spastic cerebral palsy may also develop other nervous system-related symptoms, which may include:

  • Speech difficulties
  • Hearing problems
  • Vision abnormalities
  • Cognitive, learning and behavioral disabilities [5]
  • Seizures

Related problems may include:

  • Drooling
  • Difficulties with chewing and swallowing
  • Hoarse voice or speech problems
  • Breathing irregularities
  • Failure to thrive or poor weight gain
  • Gastric reflux
  • Constipation and bladder incontinence
  • Spinal and joint deformities

Treatment Options for Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Although there’s no cure for any form of cerebral palsy, there are a number of treatment options available to help control the symptoms, including:

  • Physical therapy, as well as language, occupational, and behavioral therapies
  • Medications to control symptoms, such as muscle spasms or seizures
  • Baclofen pump (to help control muscle spasticity)
  • Spine or spinal cord surgery (to repair scoliosis or reduce spasticity)
  • Muscle-release and tendon-lengthening surgery
  • Devices to aid in communication
  • Orthotics, braces or other devices to help with positioning, standing or muscle control
  • Constraint-induced therapy (CIT)

Keep in mind that treatment options will depend on the age of the child, how severe the symptoms are, and any associated disorders. Most parents will work with a team of medical experts to implement the best treatments for the child, including therapists, surgeons, dietitians, and neurologists. [6]

Spastic Cerebral Palsy Prognosis

Again, there is no cure for spastic cerebral palsy, but with the proper treatment, children can grow up and thrive as adults. It’s essential, however, to start a treatment plan as early as possible for the child to have the best outcomes, not only as an adult but as he or she grows along the path through childhood and into adolescence.

Are Cerebral Palsy & Epilepsy connected

Around half of all children with cerebral palsy also have epilepsy. Both cerebral palsy and epilepsy are neurological disorders that often coexist with one another.

What is Epilepsy?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, epilepsy encompasses a “spectrum of brain disorders,” in which the pattern of normal neuronal activity is disrupted. [1] When the activity of brain cells, or neurons, is disturbed, convulsions (known as seizures) and muscle spasms result.

During these episodes, some children will experience loss of consciousness. As the fourth most common neurological disorder in the world, epilepsy can affect anyone at any age. Around 1 out of every 100,000 people develop epilepsy each year.

There are a number of different types of seizures, and people with epilepsy may experience one or several of the various types. It’s important to note that there is a difference between epilepsy and seizures. Someone who has only one seizure generally does not have epilepsy.

Epilepsy is marked by recurrent seizures. If someone has at least two but usually more seizures as an ongoing condition, they are more likely to be diagnosed with a seizure disorder, otherwise known as epilepsy.

What Causes Epilepsy?

For about half of epilepsy cases, there’s no known cause. Among the known causes of epilepsy, the most common include:

Prenatal Injuries

During intrauterine life, the developing brain of a fetus is highly susceptible to damage. This can occur from prenatal infections, maternal alcohol and drug use, when the oxygen or blood supply is low, and with poor nutrition or vitamin deficiencies.

Developmental and Genetic Disorders 

As mentioned earlier, cerebral palsy and epilepsy often coexist. Other neurodevelopmental and genetic disorders that can be associated with epilepsy include conditions like autism, neurofibromatosis, Angelman syndrome, and many others.

Sometimes a mutation in one or more genes can cause abnormalities in the brain that can be passed down and make a whole family more susceptible to epilepsy or other brain disorders.

Head Trauma

Head trauma, such as birth injuries, motor vehicle collisions, or any accident in which the head undergoes traumatic damage can lead to epilepsy. [2]

Diseases

A number of infectious diseases can cause direct damage to brain tissue, such as viral encephalitis and meningitis, which can result in epilepsy.

Oxygen Loss 

Any significant lack of oxygen to the brain before, during, or after birth, can cause seizures in babies. This can also occur with people of any age with a stroke, which is a bleed or obstruction to the blood flow in the brain. The brain damage that occurs is very often permanent and may leave the child with a seizure disorder.

What are the Symptoms of Epilepsy?

The main symptom of epilepsy is recurrent seizures, which are marked by any of the following:

  • Uncontrollable, jerking body movements, usually in the arms and legs
  • Repetitive movements of the face, including lip-smacking or chewing
  • Loss of awareness
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty talking
  • Rigid, tense muscles
  • The skin may look pale or flushed
  • Racing heart
  • Dilated pupils or staring
  • Sweating
  • Tongue biting
  • Tremors

Keep in mind that not every child will experience all of these symptoms.

Epilepsy Treatment

Physicians usually treat epilepsy with medication. [3] The type of medicine prescribed is based on the particular seizure type experienced by the child. However, since each child is different, finding the correct medication, along with the right dosage, can be an arduous process.

Doctors usually prescribe the first medication at a low dosage to see how effective it is, and how many side effects the child will experience. Most epilepsy medications have significant side effects, especially when they are first started, which can include dizziness, weight gain, fatigue, nausea, skin rashes, and more, depending on which medication is prescribed.

Over half of the people who begin medication find success with this method of treatment, and with continued use, may even eventually become seizure-free. There are some for whom the medication works well to control the seizures, but they will have to continue on medicine for life in order to remain seizure-free.

If medications fail to work, physicians may recommend a treatment called vagus nerve stimulation. This involves the placement of a small device into the patient’s chest. This device sends low levels of electrical energy to stimulate the vagus nerve, which may reduce seizure activity between 20% and 40%.

The ketogenic diet is another treatment option for epilepsy that fails to respond to medication. It’s a strict diet, however, that entails substantially lowering carbohydrates while increasing fats. The body will then use fat for energy, as opposed to carbohydrates.

It is a difficult diet for families to follow because of the severe limitations in what the child may eat, as well as the continuous need to monitor for ketones.

You’ll need to work closely with your physician, as well as a dietitian or nutritional counselor, if you decide to have your child try the ketogenic diet, as some children may experience adverse side effects, including dehydration and nutritional deficiencies.

However, with proper medical supervision, the side effects are not too common. Around 10% to 15% of children who go on the ketogenic diet are seizure-free within a year, although it is very rare for people to be able to stay on this diet successfully for long periods of time.

If all other treatments have been exhausted, surgery may be considered as the next option. Surgical procedures are generally only performed as a last resort, and when doctors determine that the seizures occur in a specific part of the brain that doesn’t hinder vision, speech, hearing, or motor function. During the operation, the part of the brain that’s causing seizures is removed.

Studies on Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy

According to a scientific study published in the European Journal of Epilepsy, spastic quadriplegia and spastic diplegia are the most common types of cerebral palsy associated with epilepsy. [4] Symptoms of epilepsy generally start for children with cerebral palsy during the first year of life, some within the first month after birth.

Epilepsy Prognosis

If children respond well to medication, there’s a good chance that they’ll be seizure-free one day, and may even be able to discontinue epilepsy medication use. It is important to note, however, that many children with cerebral palsy will need to remain on medication to control their seizures for life.

The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM) states that long-term survival rates are lowered when traditional treatment options, such as medications and surgery, fail to work. Accidents from uncontrollable seizures also play into the lower survival rate.

These are cases in which the severity of the seizure disorder is part of an overall more severe form of cerebral palsy, and many other organ systems are affected, leading to a shortened life span.

THE SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL, & PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF ADULTS WITH CEREBRAL PALSY


Cerebral palsy (CP) is a cluster of brain disorders that affect an individual’s ability to move, balance, and control posture, muscles, and reflexes. It results from impaired brain development during pregnancy or soon after birth. Those afflicted with cerebral palsy experience its effects and severity differently. Muscles may be weak or stiff. Many cerebral palsy persons experience tremors or unpredictable or uncontrollable reflexes and muscle movements. They may also be visually, hearing, or speech impaired. Severe cases may also have trouble breathing and swallowing, which leads to eating, digestive, and dental problems.

Medical advancements have enabled individuals with cerebral palsy to live well into adulthood. However, there appears to be a limited commitment to help physically disabled adults obtain maximum mental and physical health and well-being. As a result, those with cerebral palsy tend to experience high levels of social and emotional distress as well as physiological challenges.

Social Effects

Cerebral palsy affects one’s mobility and ability to effectively communicate. As a result, cerebral palsy individuals tend to be socially and professionally limited. Employment, marriage, and living independently are viable options only for those with mild cerebral palsy.

Inclusion is important to mitigate feelings of isolationloneliness, and depression. Having a disability does not eliminate the need to be accepted and respected by one’s peers. Cerebral palsy adults may be encouraged to join groups or socialize with individuals their age that have similar disabilities or who do not normally participate in physical activities. Organized crafts, recreational activities, and events aid socialization. Psychologists and behavioral or developmental specialists are often consulted to assist with socialization needs.

Emotional Effects

Aggressiveness, hyperactivity, belligerence, withdrawal, or fearfulness are signs the cerebral palsy individual is having difficulty adjusting to their surroundings or to others. They may act frustrated, mad, or sad. This may be due to painful physical maladies associated with their CP (i.e.: poor sleep, scoliosis, acid-reflux, skin irritations, etc.). This acting-out may also be due to feelings of low self esteem or a negative self-imageAttentiveness to these signs of distressanxiety, and depression provides the impetus for early mental health intervention.

Comprehensive care must include mental health observation and support in addition to customary medical and physical care. Helping the cerebral palsy adult adapt to their disability and/or limitations can help improve mood.

Psychological Effects

Fifty percent of cerebral palsy individuals have a learning disability. The degree of learning disability depends on which area of the brain is damaged. Approximately one-third of individuals with cerebral palsy have moderate-to-severe intellectual impairment (mental retardation). One-third has mild intellectual impairments. One-third shows no signs of cognitive impairment.

More adults with cerebral palsy are furthering their education and entering into the workforce due to advancements in medical treatment, ADA and educational accommodations, and adult cerebral palsy support services. Ensuring physically disabled adults maintain mobility, find inclusion, and have full access to community and adult support services helps ensure they achieve maximum health, well-being, and quality of life.

Cerebral Palsy and Pregnancy

Brain damage during pregnancy can have severe effects on a child and can occur for many different reasons. In any case where a child is born with cerebral palsy, there will be an investigation into the cause of that brain damage so that doctors can determine what happened. There may be a range of reasons that a child’s brain was damaged at birth, but some of them are more common than others are.

Brain injuries that occur during pregnancy can have many different causes. Genetics can certainly play a role. In some cases, the genetic factors involved will prevent the brain cells from forming and migrating where they would normally be located, and this can lead to cerebral palsy.

There is also a condition that sometimes causes cerebral palsy that involves the development of nerve cell fibers. These fibers have a protective covering that sometimes fails to form as expected. When this happens, it can cause problems with the nerves being able to transmit signals as they normally.

Illnesses

Sometimes, the mother will contract an infection or other ailment that will end up harming the child while they’re in the womb. This may not be known until the child is born and the condition is actually diagnosed. In such cases, it may be found that the damage could not have been prevented, or conversely, the child may have been damaged due to a lack of appropriate and timely care or due to another medical mistake. It’s important to understand that not all brain damage is the result of a mistake on any medical provider, or most certainly, not because of anything the mother did. Sometimes, people simply fall ill and brain damage is a result of that illness.

Pregnancy Complications

Children sometimes suffer brain damage in the womb due to low amniotic fluid or for other reasons. This is sometimes avoidable, sometimes, not. When a woman has a high-risk pregnancy, doctors may recommend that a Cesarean section is performed to minimize the risk to mother and child. With today’s medical technology, it’s much easier for physicians to detect these issues before they manifest into more serious problems, and because of that, children are oftentimes spared such injuries today when they almost certainly would have suffered them before.

Trauma

Sometimes, trauma that ruptures blood vessels or that causes oxygen deprivation can end up causing CP injuries. This trauma may occur in the womb or it may occur during birth. The trauma can sometimes cause the connections that provide proper communication between the nerves and the brain cells to be severed, as well, and this can lead to cerebral palsy in the newborn.

Cases where trauma could have been prevented are among the most tragic cases when children end up suffering with CP. This is sometimes the result of negligence on the part of a physician, a midwife or a nurse. There are options for the families that have been affected by this type of negligence and it’s not necessary for those families to assume that they’re on their own in these instances.

Negligence

Negligence is sometimes the reason that children suffer brain damage during pregnancy. This may be because the doctor fails to diagnose a condition or because they make a wrong diagnosis. It also may be because the doctor fails to deliver care that the child and mother need, creating a delay during which the child is injured.

In situations where negligence is the issue that caused the injury, the families sometimes sue for compensation. This is one way that they can get financial assistance so that they can support their child. These cases do not always win but, when they do, the jury awards or settlements are sometimes enough to help the family pay for needed medical care.