Diplegia Cerebral Palsy - Medical Negligence Compensation Solicitors
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Diplegia Cerebral Palsy - Overview
Diplegia cerebral palsy, sometimes referred to as spastic diplegia or Little’s Disease, is a type of cerebral palsy (CP) that is a neuromuscular form of spasticity and hypertonia. It affects the lower extremity muscles of the body, more specifically the legs, hips, and pelvic area. Diplegia is the most commonly occurring form of CP, making up nearly 70 percent of all cases.
A precise type of brain damage that occurs in the motor cortex, the corticospinal tract and the basal ganglia causes diplegia. The damage prevents nerve receptors in the spine from being able to utilize a specific amino acid, gamma amino butyric acid, which regulates muscle tone. This causes proper muscular development to cease and the affected nerves to stimulate muscle contractions, resulting in muscles becoming stiff and rigid and leading to a condition known as “hypertonic”.
Hypertonicity causes muscle tone to become very high and produces a great deal of difficulty in making voluntary movements. Depending on the severity of the dipelgia, the patient may be in a constant state of spasticity that produces pain, physical exhaustion, muscle and joint deterioration, arthritis, tendonitis, spasms and contractures that lead to physical deformities and misalignments of bone structures. As the person ages, the tightened muscle tone can cause physical limitations to worsen. Individuals with diplegia often have a scissors gait, balance and coordination problems and may be unable to walk at all.
While tightened muscles and improper muscle tone can lead to complications, as described above, it is important to note that no form of CP is considered to be progressive (meaning it does not get worse over time), and diplegia cerebral palsy does not worsen either. This is because all of the affected nerves were damaged at birth, and they will neither degrade nor restore. It is important to understand this issue because there are other forms of neuromuscular conditions that present similar symptoms, which do progressively worsen causing the body to degrade over time.
Even though diplegia does not cause symptoms to worsen, the toll these symptoms take on the body over the course of years can be extremely stressful and cause many secondary problems to arise. There are currently many forms of treatment to help individuals suffering with diplegia, including medications, physical therapy and surgical treatments.
Diplegia cerebral palsy is congenital in origin, meaning it is only acquired just before or during the birth process. Issues such as suffering a traumatic brain injury, exposure to bacterial or viral illnesses, such as encephalitis or meningitis, exposure to toxins, suffocation or near drowning can all contribute to formation of diplegia, as well as other forms of cerebral palsy. The most common cause of diplegia is a condition known as Periventricular Leukomalica, otherwise referred to as neonatal asphyxia. This simply means there was a sudden change in the amount of oxygen delivered through the umbilical cord into the womb, resulting in a shortage. A condition like this, coupled with a premature delivery, drastically increases the chances of the baby developing diplegia, as well as other forms of CP. Other circumstances, such as maternal infections not properly treated during pregnancy, Hypoxia of the brain, a Hematoma in the brain, along with various other types of traumas occurring at birth, can all lead to the development of diplegia.
It is very important to seek medical help as soon as possible if you believe your child may be exhibiting the symptoms of diplegia or any other type of cerebral palsy. The faster you seek treatment, the quicker a diagnosis can be reached and therapies commenced.
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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here