Foods That Can Help In Cerebral Palsy (CP)

Cerebral palsy is the group of disorders that affects muscle tone, movements and coordination.  In CP the brain is not fully developed to properly send messages to different parts of the body or the movements are not well coordinated. This  affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles. According to a study, it affects at least 1.5 to 4 out of every 1,000 children worldwide.

The symptoms of CP vary from person to person, but generally all have problems with movement and posture. Some people have severe symptoms and few have mild symptoms. Some common symptoms are as follows

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Developmental delay: Early signs of cp include delay in development like rolling, crawling, sitting and walking.

Movements and coordination: Lack of balance and muscle coordination. Muscles are either too stiff or too floppy. The child might also use one side of the body more than the other when reaching, crawling, or moving. Also they might have Difficulty with fine motor skills, such as buttoning clothes or picking up utensils.

Speech: Delayed speech is one of the most common symptoms of CP. speech is not clear or difficult to  speak. (Some foods that can help in speech delay)

Eating: Some people may also face difficulty in sucking, chewing or eating. Excessive drooling  or problems with swallowing

Other neurological problems: Vision loss and impairment, such as blurred vision, hearing loss, sleep disorder, learning difficulties, behavior problems and seizure are some of the disorders that can affect the person with cp. (Foods that can help in epilepsy and seizures)

Cerebral palsy does not get worse with time. However it takes time to realise the exact symptomes.

Different types of cerebral palsy

There are mainly 4 different types of Cp with slightly different symptoms. 

1. Spastic cerebral palsy:

It is the most common form of CP. 80 % of people suffering from CP has this type. The muscles of people with spastic cerebral palsy feel stiff and their movements may look stiff and jerky. Spasticity is a form of hypertonia, or increased muscle tone. This results in stiff muscles which can make movement difficult or even impossible. It can affect the entire body or just one part of the body.

2. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy:

People with dyskinetic CP have trouble controlling muscle movements. The movements can be slow and writhing or rapid and jerky. They can make it difficult for the affected person to walk, sit, swallow, or talk.

3. Ataxic cerebral palsy:

It is the least common type of Cp. People with ataxic cerebral palsy have trouble with balance and coordination. They may have difficulty walking and performing fine motor functions, such as grasping objects and writing.

4. Mixed cerebral palsy:

Few people have a combination of all the types of cerebral palsy. This is called mixed cerebral palsy.

Causes of cerebral palsy

Though a clear cause of cerebral palsy is not known, the most common cause is an injury to the brain. Other causes include:

  • Infections or other medical problems during a woman’s pregnancy
  • Premature birth
  • Low oxygen during birth
  • Infections such as meningitis and encephalitis
  • Brain tumor
  • Untreated jaundice
  • Stroke
  • Any kind of brain damage
  • Prenatal injury
  • Genetic conditions resulting in brain injury such as tuberculosis
Diagnosis

Initially, your doctor will review symptoms and medical history of the patient and run several tests to diagnose this condition:

Neurological examination: To review patient’s behavior, motor abilities, mental function and the type of CP

Blood tests: To diagnose the signs of infections, genetic conditions, or other conditions that may be associated with CP

Electroencephalogram(EEG): These electrodes record electrical activity of the brain and help to diagnose the type of CP.

Functional MRI (fMRI): To measure the change in blood flow that occurs in specific parts of the brain and to detect the exact locations of critical functions such as speech and movement.

Computerized tomography scan (CT): To check the cross sectional images of the brain which helps to reveal abnormalities in the brain which are responsible for CP.

If the CP is confirmed, the doctors may also perform test for neurological problems that are often associated. Like vision impairment, speech delay, deafness, learning and movement difficulties.

Treatment

Medication: Anticonvulsant drugs and  muscle relaxants are commonly used for treating CP. However, it sometimes takes a while to find the one that works best for each child. Your clinician will determine if medication is safe and recommended for your child

Surgery: Orthopedic surgery may be used to relieve pain and improve mobility. It may also be needed to release tight muscles or to correct bone abnormalities caused by spasticity.

Other therapies: Other types of treatment for CP may include therapies like speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and counselling.

Foods and herbs that can help in CP
VITAMIN B6:

Protein rich foods like chicken, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, rice and green leafy vegetables are very good sources of vitamin B6. This vitamin supports the critical functions of the nervous system. In addition, it also boosts the metabolism of various neurotransmitters required for normal brain function.

VITAMIN B3 (NIACIN):

Fish, lean meats, nuts & poultry are high in vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 improves circulation and is very helpful in treating brain related disorders. Moreover, it enhances the treatment of CP when used with anticonvulsants.

VITAMIN B9 (FOLIC ACID):

This nutrient is very important for a healthy nervous system. But in CP patients, folic acid gets depleted and hence should be taken in the form of foods after consultation with a doctor. Lentils, liver, soy flour, black eyed peas, kidney beans and peanuts are rich in this vitamin.

VITAMIN D & CALCIUM:

People with cp require more of calcium and vitamin D. Milk, cheese, yogurt, dark leafy greens like spinach, kale etc. are few good sources of these nutrients.

MAGNESIUM,MANGANESE & ZINC:

Nuts like almonds, peanuts, cashews and pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium. They are also antioxidants which protect against cell damage. Manganese plays an important role in cerebral functions and hence an important nutrient for CP patients. Nuts, whole grains, and legumes are rich in this mineral. In addition, zinc is required for bone growth. Adding meat, eggs, nuts and legumes in your child’s diet is important.

AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR cerebral palsy

According to ayurveda cerebral palsy is the condition known as phakka which means inability to walk or move. As per ayurveda there are three  main energies- vata, pitta and kapha. Vata dosha is responsible for controlling motor and sensory activities of brain. According to ayurveda Imbalance of vata dosha is responsible for cerebral palsy. Now let us understand how some Ayurvedic herbs help with cp.

BRAHMI:

For thousands of years, the leaves of this herb have been used to treat many health conditions. Brahmi sharpens the brain by protecting cells, increasing learning and memory power. It is very helpful in reducing the pain and stiffness in the affected area. 

ASHWAGANDHA:

Health benefits of Ashwagandha also include raising the level of acetylcholine, the most important neurotransmitter associated with boosting brain power. In addition, studies suggest that impaired cognitive function including inability to learn are associated with decreased levels of acetylcholine. Research on children with ADHD indicates Ashwagandha raises acetylcholine by inhibiting the activity of the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. Furthermore, Ashwagandha root also contains choline, a substance necessary for the formation of acetylcholine

SHALLAKI:

Some side effects of CP medicines include decreased bone mineral density. This condition is called osteoporosis. Shallaki, also known as Boswellia Serrata, is very beneficial to support bone health and also stress management. Maintenance of bone stability is a difficult task but is also essential for the maintenance of overall health and well being of a person. Bones not only work as the frame for body structure but also help maintain the nervous systems in the anatomy. Shallaki helps maintain bone health and stress management.

MULETHI:

Also known as Licorice or Glycyrrhiza glabra L, Mulethi is a perennial herb that has traditionally been used to treat many diseases. Being a natural product, these herbs have fewer side effects and improved efficacy as compared to the modern medicines.

HOW TO FEED ALL THESE foods TO KIDS?

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Now the question arises- how to include all these bitter Ayurvedic herbs, nuts and seeds in your child’s diet conveniently on a daily basis?


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