Cerebral palsy (CP) is a common cause of physical disability in children. It is a chronic motor disability which is non progressive, non-curable & non-fatal. CP causes developmental & functional impairment in children. This results from damage to the growing brain before /during birth/in the post-natal period.
Prenatal: Congenital brain malformation, maternal factors such as nutritional deficiencies, diseases during pregnancy, poor ante-natal care, complications during pregnancy period & genetic factors (to a lesser extent) etc.
Peri-natal: Birth asphyxia (failure to establish breathing at birth), pre-mature baby, intra uterine growth retardation, infections of nervous system etc.
Post-natal: Kernicterus (jaundice in newborn), seizures, trauma to head, toxins, infections of brain etc.
Signs and Symptoms
Clinical symptoms vary from extremely mild to severe depending upon the extent of the injury to the brain.
Sucking, swallowing, chewing difficulties
Delayed milestones like sitting, crawling etc
Unusual tightness & irritability
Non-attainment of bowel, bladder control
Abnormal posture, tone, movements.
Slow head growth
Difficulty in concentrating & behavioural issues
Difficulty in sensory perceptions.
Spasticity (abnormal increase in muscle tone)
Unsteady gait (manner of walking)
Problem with balance
Mental retardation in 25-50% cases
Ayurveda has many scopes in the management of CP with the panchakarma procedures and internal medication. Ayurveda has much more to do in the preventive aspect. Educating the society regarding appropriate factors required of fertilisation, proper garbhini paricharya, knowledge of garbha vridhikara bhava & garbhopaghathakara bhavas could help in preventing undesirable effects on foetus in utero to a great extent.
Treatment of CP aims to achieve maximum functional ability & skill in keeping with the developmental age.Phakka roga chikithsa can be generally administered for CP. As the classical symptoms of CP fit into spectrum of vata vyadhi hence treatments to reduce vata such as bahya-abhyanthara sneha (internal & external oleation therapy),vasthi(medicated enema) & treatments to nourish the brain has to be done.
Internally pachana(digestive medicines),srothosodhana (that which clears the channels) & brimhana (nourishing) medicines are required. In case of associated medical issues such as visual impairment, hearing loss, speech problems, drooling of saliva, tooth decay can be dealt successfully by the Salakyathanthra branch of Ayurveda. Treatments done to the head can particularly address mental retardation, sleep issues & behavioural problems. Panchakarma therapies can reduce the spasticity & improve the quality of life.
Ayurveda has a specialised branch called Kaumarabhruthya which deals with child health care. CP cannot be correlated with any single disease in Ayurveda. But there are some disease conditions which we can correlate to the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy such as Phakka (Kasypa Samhitha describes Phakka roga when the child doesn’t start walking even after 1 year of age),vata vyadhi spectrum diseases such as Pangulya, Jadathwa, Ekangaroga(monoplegia), Pakshaghatha(hemiplegia), Sarvangaroga(quadriplegia) etc.
According to Ayurveda appropriate rtu (ovulatory period),kshetra (uterus),ambu (amniotic fluid) & bija (sperm & ovum) are required for the generation of a healthy progeny. Improper garbhiniparicharya (ante natal regimen) & presence of garbhopaghathakara bhavas (factors that can adversely affect the pregnancy) can cause birth defects in the foetus. According to Ayurveda unhealthy fertilisation & improper ante natal care can cause inborn diseases in the newborn. So, Ayurveda emphasises on a healthy ante-natal & post –natal diet & regimens.
Punarva has great experience in providing the best ante natal & post-natal care. So, we have a vast scope in the preventive aspect by providing better obstetric & neonatal care. For CP, we provide treatments such as abhyanga (oil massage) & swedana (fomentation) for improving metabolism,circulation,muscle toning & strengthening.The panchakarma procedures (purification therapies),medhya (treatments for head such as siro pichu,siro vasthi etc),balya (strengthening), rasayana(rejuvination) & behavioral therapies helps in improving the quality of life.
Complete cure of CP is not possible, still with the treatments the muscle tone, brain functioning & mobility can be improved. Repetition of therapies in small intervals can yield good benefit for the CP patient. So, the treatments can help the individual attain his greatest potential physically, mentally, & socially thereby making more adaptable to life.