Author(s): Krigger KW
The presentation of cerebral palsy can be global mental and physical dysfunction or isolated disturbances in gait, cognition, growth, or sensation. It is the most common childhood physical disability and affects 2 to 2.5 children per 1,000 born in the United States. The differential diagnosis of cerebral palsy includes metabolic and genetic disorders. The goals of treatment are to improve functionality and capabilities toward independence. Multispecialty treatment teams should be developed around the needs of each patient to provide continuously updated global treatment care plans. Complications of cerebral palsy include spasticity and contractures; feeding difficulties; drooling; communication difficulties; osteopenia; osteoporosis; fractures; pain; and functional gastrointestinal abnormalities contributing to bowel obstruction, vomiting, and constipation. Valid and reliable assessment tools to establish baseline functions and monitor developmental gains have contributed to an increasing body of evidenced-based recommendations for cerebral palsy. Many of the historical treatments for this ailment are being challenged, and several new treatment modalities are available. Adult morbidity and mortality from ischemic heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer, and trauma are higher in patients with cerebral palsy than in the general population.