Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy has been thrown around as a possibility from "day of life 1", as they call it in the NICU. We meet with a neurologist from time to time to assess Crew's progress. Several weeks ago we met with our neurologist and got a "so far, so good, but it's too early to declare victory". The usual. At this stage, it's impossible to tell to what degree, if any, someone may suffer from cerebral palsy, though there are often early indicators if it's going to be catastrophically problematic. As of now, she sees nothing to indicate a serious level of cerebral palsy and if she had to guess, if he does present with cerebral palsy, it would likely manifest itself as clumsiness and/or questionable dexterity.

Nevertheless, I thought it would be beneficial for my organizational needs to finally put all of my research on risk factors into one place. If nothing else, to prove that I'm not ignorant of them, LOL!

At one time this information was daunting, and I've withheld it to this point because it felt so melodramatic to post it. But, you're big girls and boys and won't read too much into it, I'm sure. Promise to refrain from freaking out?

Top Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy
Any one of the following circumstances raises a child's risk factors by quite a bit:

1. Being a twin -- check
2. Being an identical twin -- check
3. Suffering from TTTS -- check
4. Having the sibling twin die while still in the womb -- check
5. Having a twin die as a result of TTTS, inside of the womb or out -- check
6. Being born less than 30 weeks -- Crew was 28, or 26 depending on who you ask.
7. Weighing less than 1500 grams at birth -- Crew was 684 -- "Infants born with a very low birthrate (i.e. under 3 pounds 5 ounces, or 1500 grams) have a 25 times more likely chance of acquiring cerebral palsy."
8. Having newborn seizures -- check
9. Having a low Apgar score -- Crew scored a 1 at birth, a 6 after 15 minutes
10. Being born without a heartbeat -- check
11. Having surgery/general anesthetic as a newborn -- Crew had 4 before he was considered "newborn age".
12. Having any kind of interruption in growth outside of the womb -- check
13. Having any kind of nutritional absorption issues early on -- check
14. Intrauterine growth retardation -- check, Crew was the donor twin and measured far too small and undeveloped for his age
15. Complications of labor and delivery -- check
16. Having a brain bleed, particularly a grade 3 or 4 -- Crew had a grade 1 or 2, possibly a 3, but doubtful
17. Babies who need to breathe with a ventilator for more than 4 weeks -- check

I'm not oblivious to the possibilities and risk factors here, but I'm also not surprised when his evaluations come back mystifyingly positive and reassuring. "It should be noted that these are risk factors, and not determinants, of cerebral palsy." I think there is a fine line between being proactive and overreactive. If I became a nutcase about every possibility that was thrown at me during our NICU adventure, they would have had to lock me in a padded cell very early on. He was going to be a "vegetable", you may remember. A few times they were just sure he was going to die. I did become highly concerned over a number of those things and it was all part of the roller coaster that I jumped off of 6 months ago.

Nevertheless, we have done two of our little 30-minute "formal therapy sessions" and... it was actually really fun. I agree that if he does have any degree of Cerebral Palsy that we want to be ahead of it and not behind it.

So, our tiny miracle continues to beat the odds and we will continue to watch him closely to help him be the strong little tiger that we know he is. Needing extra assistance in no way makes him less of a miracle to us. We've known that all along, but have gotten careless and lax with his plentiful successes. He has spoiled us with how "normal" he is with so many things that we have started to take his progress for granted.

I love this little guy. But he needs a bath right now...

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