Caring for a Child with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy

July 31, 2020
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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If your child has been diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, you’re likely feeling heartbroken, overwhelmed, and out of sorts. There is nothing that prepares you for this kind of experience — and there is nothing anyone can say to make you feel better. However, as a loving parent, you’re also probably wondering what it all means? After all, understanding the condition will help you provide the best possible life for your child. So, what exactly, is spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy? What causes it? And, what’s the best form of treatment?

What is spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy?

Spastic quadriplegia is a type of cerebral palsy. The condition makes it difficult for a child to control the movements of their arms and legs — which often results in sudden, jerky motions. The condition typically affects the entire body, so it’s also possible to notice the facial muscles of your child either twitching or becoming so tight that they interfere with your child’s ability to eat or speak. And, since spastic quadriplegia may affect muscles in your child’s throat, it’s possible for your child to experience complications such as malnutrition — due to difficulties eating and swallowing food — as well as problems breathing if food is aspirated.

Spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy also causes a person’s limbs to become stiff. Unlike other types of cerebral palsy, the condition doesn’t necessarily cause paralysis of the muscles.

Symptoms of Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy

Symptoms of spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy usually develop during childhood — usually anywhere between three months of age to two years old. As a result, they hinder the child’s development. These include:

  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle tightness
  • Jerky movements
  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Poor coordination
  • Muscle tremors
  • Speech difficulties
  • Cognitive disabilities
  • Seizures — in about one-third of patients

Because the condition affects the child’s motor skills, you may also notice difficulty swallowing, as well as a loss of bladder and bowel control. It’s also common for children with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy to be slow to develop. In the most severe cases, the child may be unable to walk and/or develop limb deformities.

If your child is an infant, you may also notice they have a difficult time controlling their head and sitting, and they may also regularly cross their legs at the knees. They may also have difficulties stretching and experience difficulties when swallowing food.

Causes of Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy

Spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy could be caused by different factors. These include:

  • A lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Damage to the brain
  • Damage to the nervous system
  • Damaged parts of the brain sending the wrong neurological signals

Most cases of spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy are the result of damage to the brain during pregnancy. Although, in rare cases, it may be due to brain damage during childbirth or physical trauma in infancy.

Caring for a Child with Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy

It’s difficult to diagnose a child with quadriplegia cerebral palsy when they are only a few months old since most babies could appear to have jerky movements that won’t look like anything is out of the ordinary. Usually, parents will notice something is odd when the child doesn’t meet typical developmental milestones — such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling, and standing. Symptoms may also vary significantly from one child to another.

If your child’s pediatrician suspects quadriplegia cerebral palsy, they will look for any abnormalities in their posture and muscle tone. The doctor will then order an MRI or cranial ultrasound to scan the brain and blood work to screen for genetic issues.

Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment options include:

  • Nerve injections
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Selective dorsal rhizotomy

Once you’re at home, there are several things you can do to make things easier for your child. The most common include:

1. Learning About Their Entire Medical Team

In addition to their pediatrician, your child will need to meet regularly with their speech therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, and every additional specialist recommended by the pediatrician. Make sure all of your home caregivers know their names, contact information, and scheduled appointments.

2. Learning About At-Home Physical Therapy

Although your child will have physical therapy sessions with a professional, you can help your child maintain mobility and work on their balance by doing stretching exercises at home. Ask their physical therapist for guidance and instructions. In addition to being helpful, it will make physical therapy appointments less daunting for your child.

3. Promoting Physical Activity

This will keep your child’s muscles in motion, as well as promotes independence and self-confidence. Show your child that there are still things they can do — such as muscle strengthening (per the physical therapist’s instructions), propelling their wheelchair, and doing aquatic exercises, if possible. Do note that you’ll have to learn about cardiorespiratory training from your child’s physical therapist to keep exercise within healthy parameters.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a child. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help.

Our home care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering Pediatric Home Health Care Services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.