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The cornerstone of all new medical breakthroughs is found at hospitals and universities that conduct research. Without researchers working day after day to expand the boundaries of what is possible in tracking and treating complex medical conditions, there would be fewer possibilities for children to grow into strong, healthy adults.
The Role of the Research Community
Often when professionals talk about Cerebral Palsy research, the conversation is about new treatments or assistive methods that address symptoms or conditions that take place after children are born, not before. However, there is research underway that aims to find ways to prevent Cerebral Palsy from occurring under certain circumstances. This research is taking place at several universities, hospitals, and in the halls of government agencies.
Common questions that researchers ask include:
- What pre-term factors cause Cerebral Palsy?
- What practices lead to Cerebral Palsy?
- What post-term factors cause Cerebral Palsy?
- Can brain damage be repaired after it occurs?
- What socio-economic factors are conducive to Cerebral Palsy?
- How does a mother’s health affect a child?
- Can events that predispose a child to brain injury be prevented?
- At what point is the developing brain most prone to injury, and how can it be protected?
- Why is premature birth or low birth weight an overriding factor in Cerebral Palsy?
- What causes a rise in Cerebral Palsy cases from induction practices, forcep deliveries, cesarean births or placenta complications?
- How can infections be treated best during pregnancy and delivery?
- What genetic predispositions can be screened for prior to conception?
- What trends in Cerebral Palsy are occurring geographically?
- How do socio-economic conditions contribute to a rise in or decrease in cases?
- What measures have been proven to prevent Cerebral Palsy?
- What teratogens are harmful?
- What social habits lead to higher risk?
- What causes Cerebral Palsy?
Preventative research that is taking place focuses on several factors, including:
- Safer techniques used in the delivery room
- Identifying and correcting mishaps in-utero
- Solving genetic conundrums
- Curbing traumatic events such as brain bleeds or asphyxia, and identifying them when they occur
- Identifying the mechanisms by which brain damage occurs
- Studying the potential for neural regeneration
- Finding better ways to identify and treat infections before brain damage
- Studying genetic factors that may contribute to Cerebral Palsy
- Testing medications that could be taken by mothers
- Identifying ways to prevent premature birth
Additionally, large-scale epidemiological studies are examining the effects of external factors that may lead to Cerebral Palsy.
These studies are attempting to identifying fixes for societal factors, such as:
- The lack of access to healthcare for mothers
- The role of a family’s socio-economic status
- The role race plays in the occurrence of Cerebral Palsy
It is not enough for the research community to fund and conduct these studies, but their findings must be published and publicized. Once attention is brought to research efforts, preventative measures can be implemented into pre-natal care which ultimately benefits the unborn child.
There’s an adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – this is especially true in cases of Cerebral Palsy because there is no cure. For that reason, examining new paths of prevention is likely to remain a priority for the research community for the foreseeable future. However, researchers do play an additional role in the treatment of Cerebral Palsy after diagnosis is made. They primarily help to ascertain treatment measures, bio-medical advancements, and advance technology.