Spastic Quadriplegia– This is a complicated neurological disorder in which there is complete paralysis along with spasticity of all four limbs of the body. Along with paralysis and spasticity, there is also presence of hypertonia of the muscles involved. Spastic Quadriplegia is usually caused as a result of a brain injury before birth.
In this article, we will discuss about:
- What is Spastic Quadriplegia?
- Causes of Spastic Quadriplegia
- Symptoms of Spastic Quadriplegia
- Diagnosis of Spastic Quadriplegia
- Treatments for Spastic Quadriplegia
- Complications of Spastic Quadriplegia
What Is Spastic Quadriplegia?
Quadriplegia as the name suggests is a plegia or paralysis of all four limbs of the body. Spastic Quadriplegia differs from other forms of Quadriplegia in the sense that in Spastic Quadriplegia there is also presence of spastic and contracted muscles. The extent of the severity of this disease differs from one child to another. Children with moderate forms of this disease may be ultimately able to sit and walk for short distances by themselves whereas children with the severe form of this disease find it very hard to perform day to day tasks but irrespective of the severity of the disease, children suffering from Spastic Quadriplegia struggle both physically and emotionally throughout their lives.
Causes Of Spastic Quadriplegia
Spastic Quadriplegia does not have a specific cause but there are certain risk factors which increase an infant’s risk of developing Spastic Quadriplegia. Some of these risks are:
- Suboptimal birth weight
- Lack of oxygen to brain
- Development of meningitis
- Brain hemorrhage
- Other injuries during birth
Symptoms Of Spastic Quadriplegia
Majority of children affected with Spastic Quadriplegia are not able to walk. They also tend to have speech impediment. The limbs of these children are very stiff. They lack voluntary control of muscles. They may also suffer from frequent episodes of seizures.
Diagnosis of Spastic Quadriplegia
The diagnosis of Spastic Quadriplegia can be made as early as the first year of life of an infant when there is observation of a significant delay in attaining developmental milestones like rolling, crawling, walking, sitting, etc even though if the condition is mild then these symptoms may not be apparent till the age of three when there may be observation of significant regression of milestones. At times, observing the muscle tone of the child may also help in the diagnosis of Spastic Quadriplegia, as there will be presence of increased stiffness of the muscles. Imaging studies like MRI and CT scans may be done to identify the cause of the symptoms. Even though a diagnosis of Spastic Quadriplegia can be made as early as the first year of life, it is generally deferred until the child is around two years of age to look for progression of symptoms.
Treatments For Spastic Quadriplegia
The main aim of treatment for Spastic Quadriplegia is making the patient as comfortable as possible along with trying to improve mobility of the child. Spastic Quadriplegia is not a curative medical condition but quality of life of the affected individual can definitely be made better through different treatments.
- The first line of treatment for Spastic Quadriplegia is aggressive physical therapy so as to increase the strength of the limbs and prevent development of contractures.
- Apart from physical therapy, antispasmodic medications can also be used to reduce spasticity.
- Surgery may also be at times required to correct any deformity in the limbs due to Spastic Quadriplegia and in turn help in better mobility.
- Massage therapy has also been shown to be beneficial in Spastic Quadriplegia
Complications Of Spastic Quadriplegia
- Spastic Quadriplegia causes various types of deformities of the limbs. Apart from this, around 25% of affected children tend to develop scoliosis which further affects ambulation of the individual.
- Spastic Quadriplegia also causes severe foot deformities like ankle equinus which is a condition in which there is limited flexibility of the ankles and there may be observation of increased toe walking. There may also be development of a footdrop.
- Spastic Quadriplegia also causes other problems apart from walking difficulties like dysphagia or difficulty swallowing which can further lead to respiratory problems. Swallowing difficulties can also result in inadequate nutrition further exposing the child to illness.