Sometimes called spastic diplegia, diplegic cerebral palsy is a version of the disability that is characterized by frequent spasms and muscle tensing. A person with this disorder tends to feel the tension most in their legs. Over enough time, this constant tensing of the muscles can affect the joints and reduce the person’s overall range of motion. Nonetheless, diplegic cerebral palsy is considered to be a milder form of the disability. Generally, a child will no experience any impact to their cognitive abilities or intelligence, though certain intellectual milestones may take them a bit more time to reach.
How Infants Acquire Diplegic Cerebral Palsy
The most common way a baby gets diplegic cerebral palsy is because of neonatal asphyxia. This usually occurs when a newborn ends up without enough oxygen during the birthing process. Children who come out prematurely and/or have a low weight at birth are also at a greater risk of potentially acquiring this disability. Both traits can expose a baby to oxygen issues when birth occurs.
Rubella, high-grade fevers, and other maternal infections during pregnancy can also lead to an infant developing diplegic cerebral palsy.
Diplegic Cerebral Palsy: Its Symptoms and Characteristics
Depending on the individual, diplegic cerebral palsy can take on a number of different traits and symptoms. These may include:
- In infancy, a baby may use only its arms to get around, but not their legs to actually crawl. Some will remain immobile and simply never attempt to crawl.
- Between the ages of 1 and 3, infants and toddlers should be learning to sit cross-legged, which helps with posture. Some children with diplegic cerebral palsy will prefer to sit in a “W” shape instead
- When a child starts walking, you may notice they do so with their feet turned toward each other. They may also roll on their feet as they move.
- Children who are walking may also be unable to go more than a short distance.
- Spastic hip diseases are not only common amongst children with diplegic cerebral palsy, but will actually increase in severity over time. Hip dislocation as well as other types of joint problems will become more and more likely as the child gets older.
- Standing alone may be too difficult for a child, even when they get to three years old.
- A child’s leg muscles may quickly change from rigid and stiff to relaxed and floppy.
Diagnosis of Diplegic Cerebral Palsy
Even though a physician may know your child was deprived of oxygen during the delivery, they may be hesitant to make a diagnosis at that time of any kind of cerebral palsy. As the main symptoms of diplegic cerebral palsy affect the child’s legs, it will be several months before any confirmation is possible. The child must first exhibit signs that they are having trouble moving their legs and facing delays with their normal development.
Diplegic Cerebral Palsy Treatment
Just like with most types of cerebral palsy, physical therapy can go a long way toward helping people live with it. Not only will physical therapy help build up the child’s muscles; it will make a big difference where coordination, balance and daily tasks are concerned.
Massage therapy has also become popular for children with this disability. Even infants can benefit from this form of care. It helps in relieving stress and reducing the stiffness in the child’s muscles.
Of course, medication can also be very helpful for decreasing muscle spasms as well as the various forms of stiffness people with cerebral palsy suffer from. If medication does not ease the pain, however, a physician may prescribe orthopedic surgery.
Being the least invasive form of cerebral palsy means a diagnosis of diplegic cerebral palsy does not have to mean the end of the world. Although they will have daily challenges to face, going in regularly to have hip check-ups will make a big difference in the quality of life that can be expected.