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What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy is a blanket term for brain damage with motor impairment. It is typically caused due to brain injury or abnormal development before, during or immediately after birth. A child with Palsy generally exhibits signs of physical as well as mental impairment. However, the kind and the extent of motor dysfunction, parts of the body as well as the number of limbs involved will be different in different individuals. In short, every case is unique of its kind; one may be totally paralytic and dependent, whereas the other may be slightly symptomatic requiring little assistance.
Prevalence of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy is the most common form of childhood neurological disorders occurring in approximately four births per thousand. The CDC has reported that it is more common in boys than in girls. About 78% of children identified with CP had a spastic CP, whereas more than 50% of the children with CP were associated with other conditions such as epilepsy or autism spectrum disorder. The disease actually causes a wide range of difficulties in walking, lack of movement coordination, low intelligence, etc.
Overall palsy can be described in variety of ways as follows:
Spastic CP – This is the most prevalent type of CP in occurrence causing incredible stiffness in the muscles, probably due to faulty messages being sent from the damaged parts of the brain. It has been reported to be among approximately 41% of the CP cases.
Dyskinetic CP – This is the type of CP categorized with abnormal involuntary movements either in the posture or in the limb and around the mouth.
Ataxic CP – This is the least common type of CP associated with shaky movements and problems with maintaining balance.
Factors Responsible for Cerebral Palsy
Various studies from different corners of the world have linked different causative factors for the occurrence of CP. It has been concluded that the prevalence of CP was observed to be approximately four children per 1,000 live births with a weight 1.5 gms to 2.4 gms and almost 59 per 1,000 live births among children weighing less than 1.5 gms. Thus occurrence of CP has been linked up with low birth weight and premature birth.
Some studies have also revealed that children born as a part of multiple birth pregnancy through artificial or normal reproduction have a higher chance to have CP. During fetal development disruption of oxygen supply, ischemic stroke, blockage in the blood supplying vessel can increase the risk of occurrence of CP. The disease can also be related to infections among mothers such as blood borne infections or fever during labor, maternal genitourinary infections and/or infections of the placental membranes. Additionally, approximately 10 to 15% of the CP cases are related to brain injuries after birth such as vehicle crashes or falls.
Symptoms Associated with Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral Palsy is a neurodegenerative condition associated with the progressive, irreparable damage of the nervous system. In case of severe forms of CP, signs are often visible immediately after birth. However, some of the other signs of CP can follow unique patterns such as:
- Poor muscular tone as well as lack of coordination in the voluntary movements.
- Problems with maintaining proper posture and balance due to muscular stiffness as well as exaggerated reflexes.
- Difficulty in achieving milestones such as motor skills. Walking difficulty, generally walking with one foot or dragging legs while walking. Maintaining unique postures while walking such as toe walking or jump gait, crouched gait as well as stiff knee gait.
- Excessive drooling or difficulty in swallowing or speaking.
• Random involuntary movements such as excessive tremor, shaky hands as well as posture.
- Seizures, communication problems and intellectual disabilities are common in CP CASES.
Since CP is associated with the brain damage, it can as well affect other brain functions such as:
- Visual impairment
- Hearing loss
- Difficulty is swallowing or sucking of food into the lungs
- Gastroesophageal reflux or sudden spitting up of food.
- Speech problem
- Tooth decay
- Sleep disorder
- Behavioral problems
What goes wrong in Cerebral Palsy?
Since no single factor has been found to be responsible for the occurrence of CP, it is rather difficult to point out the specific damage of the brain, thus many different things can be synchronized together to result in the exact cause of damage. The human brain is the central processing organ, which passes on the information through its own messengers known as Neurons or Brain cells. These messages are passed on in the form of a specific codes or signals which are decoded by the organs for their implementations. Any problem in the entire information system can lead to faulty implementation such as genetic changes in the neuronal development, faulty insulation causing nerve damage and affecting signal transmission, autoimmunity damaging cells responsible in transmission of signals, faulty connections halting the transmission of messages, etc.
Stem cell treatment for Cerebral Palsy
With the traditional medicinal approach, there is no cure for CP, however, some rehabilitative approaches can be followed to minimize the symptoms such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. Additionally, some steroidal oral medicines are available to relax stiff muscles, although long term use of the same can be fatal. However, with advancements in science and technology, it is now possible to offer stem cells treatment to the children with CP.
Stem cell treatments represent a non-invasive alternative that can reduce the symptoms as well slow down progression of the disease. Various strategies have been applied by medical science to limit brain cells damage and reduce the symptoms with the help of stem cells.
Stem cells are the cells of our body which are capable of differentiating into various other cells. Their unique differentiation and unlimited multiplication properties make them important in the application of regenerative medicines. With the help of technical advancements these stem cells can be isolated from the patient’s own body and utilized in a very unique way to provoke the neuronal precursor cells of the brain and spinal cord in a rapid production of new neurons which can replace damaged ones to restore functions. These cells can thus differentiate into required cells, regenerate damaged cells and help in resuming the function of the damaged organs under suitable conditions.
Treatment of CP at Bioscience Americas/GIOSTAR Colombia
We have mastered the technology for isolating the maximum number of viable stem cells from either the autologous sources of the patient’s own body or allogeneically with a matched donor to treat various forms of CP.
Generally, these cells are administered through any one of the following methods:
Intrathecal Administration -Through this mode, cells are infused in the cerebrospinal fluid through the subarachnoid spaces of the spinal canal.
Intravenous Administration- Through this mode, cells are infused through the veins along with the mannitol to expand blood volumes in the central nervous system, to ensure that the maximum number of cells are reaching the targeted area.
Once infused back in the body, these cells can reach the targeted site through their strong paracrine effects and differentiate into lost neurons or help revive the damaged ones to restore their function. These stem cells have also been observed to promote vasculogenesis to increase oxygen supply to the blood.
Thus with our standardized, broad based and holistic approach, it is now possible to obtain noticeable improvements in children with CP in the symptoms as well as their functional abilities.