Are children with cerebral palsy at higher risk for coronavirus infection? Safety tips for parents, caregivers  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that affect movement and muscle tone or posture
- Cerebral palsy is the most common motor and movement disability of childhood
- Here’s what you need to know about cerebral palsy and parents and caregivers of kids with the condition can do avoid bringing COVID-19 home
New Delhi: Every year, October 6 is observed as World Cerebral Palsy Day, a day to build awareness about cerebral palsy – a group of neurological disorders that affect a person’s ability to move, maintain balance and posture. This day is also an opportunity for the whole world to come together to recognise and celebrate the 17 million people in the world who have cerebral palsy. As we celebrate World CP Day amid the coronavirus pandemic, people and communities have had to adapt to changes caused by the COVID-19 disease.
In fact, caregivers of those with cerebral palsy need to take extra precautions during the pandemic – considering that coronavirus and cerebral palsy can be a deadly combination. On the occasion of World CP Day, we talked to Dr Venkataramana, Head of Neurosciences, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital, Bangalore, to better understand what cerebral palsy is, and whether kids with the condition have a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a brain disorder that results from damage to the brain either during foetal life or during peri-natal or immediate post-natal life. As a result, there is a delay in the psychomotor development, cognitive development of the child. The severity of impairment depends upon the extent of the brain damage. Hence, their attention span, comprehension, learning ability, the memory will be significantly affected apart from motor disabilities like spasticity or dystonia. The majority of them will have associated convulsions or seizures complicating the above problem as well as requiring long term medications.
Does cerebral palsy increase a child’s risk of getting COVID-19?
Children with cerebral palsy cannot protect themselves adequately nor comprehend and react to the situations appropriately due to the above impairments. This makes them susceptible to many risks such as infections, injuries warranting constant supervision and protection. COVID-19 infection, caused by the SARS-CoV- 2 virus, has affected people all over the world. Several preventive measures and precautions have been recognised and adopted by the people.
However, these children will not understand the seriousness of the situation, will not comprehend and learn the preventive measures to implement them accurately all the time. Therefore, they are one of several groups at high-risk for serious cases of coronavirus infection, along with those underlying health conditions and the elderly.
In addition, they are prone to lung infections and overall immunity has been found to be low in this group due to the seizures there. Since they cannot adapt themselves one needs to constantly ensure all the precautions are provided for them both at home, school, and other areas of activity such as playrooms, treatment rooms, as well as rehabilitation areas.
Tips for parents and caregivers of children with cerebral palsy
It’s important for caregivers and parents of those with cerebral palsy to strictly adhere to guidelines to stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis:
- Adequate physical distancing needs to be ensured to avoid contracting infection.
- These children should confine to the homes unless warranted.
- Unnecessary outings and travel should be avoided.
- The other major source of infection for them is from the parents, other adults at home, therapists and other children during playtime. It is mandatory that the adults at home should take all precautions to ensure not to bring the infection home. Whenever there is suspicion of contact, these children should be given a good wash of hands as well as a bath.
- Following good respiratory hygiene.
- Older children should be trained to wear a mask.
It has been a general belief that children are not affected by COVID-19 which may not be true in all circumstances. Healthy young children may get away but they carry the potential risk of infecting adults as well as vulnerable children. Though classical adult syndrome is not noted in children, a peculiar inflammatory syndrome of the body has been reported in children all over the world. This systemic inflammatory disease can lead to variety of problems in these growing children. Experts are still trying to understand the long-term consequences of COVID-19. Hence, it is prudent to take precautions and protect the vulnerable group.
Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter.