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Physiotherapy contributes to the treatment of microcephaly

Physiotherapy contributes to the treatment of microcephaly

Children with microcephaly are characterized by presenting head and the brain is smaller than normal for its age, and when compared to other children of the same age and the same sex, the difference is very clear. The explanation is in the reduction of the space for the growth of the brain and its capacities, because the fontanelles (popularly known as millworms), which should take longer to close after the baby's birth, join together prematurely, preventing this normal growth and necessary of the brain inside the cranial cavity and the perimeter of the head is then smaller than normal. The disease may also be due to insufficient growth of the brain during pregnancy.

The diagnosis of microcephaly is most commonly obtained after the first year of life when it is noticeable that the child's head size is well below size that it should present. But it can also be evidenced soon after birth during the first exams that the child performs postpartum.

See the main effects that this neurological condition can cause in the child:

  • Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • Intellectual deficit
  • Stiffness in muscles
  • Seizures, etc.

Regarding the causes, they may be genetic or involve other factors, such as:

  • Severe malnutrition during pregnancy
  • Drug, alcohol and exposure to some chemicals in the gestational period
  • Complications in pregnancy or childbirth that end up reducing normal oxygenation to the baby's brain
  • Mother having contracted zika virus during pregnancy
  • Infections, such as rubella
  • Use of some medications in the first trimester of pregnancy. It is the case of specific medicines during the treatment of cancer or hepatitis, for example
  • maternal HIV
  • Meningitis
  • Chronic renal failure, etc.

The role of physiotherapy in the treatment of microcephaly

Children with microcephaly usually have motor and cognitive deficits, characteristics that in the future can significantly compromise the quality of life. Thus, the child diagnosed with the disease should receive a physiotherapeutic follow-up from an early age.

Up to three years of age, the child may already show motor difficulties and the professional accompanies the picture with stimuli through specific physiotherapy procedures. After the age of four, the first cognitive difficulties can arise, at which point the specialists already begin the process of intellectual rehabilitation, associating physiotherapeutic work with the work of other professionals, such as psychologists and speech therapists.

The work of the physiotherapist will depend on the child's progression: how many sessions per week, the intensity and type of stimulus to be applied, etc. But it is always important to emphasize that the work must be multidisciplinary, ie in conjunction with the work of other professionals, such as those already mentioned. There is no definitive treatment for the disease, all the work done by physiotherapy and other professionals has the objective of reducing the impact that the child suffers as a result of microcephaly.

The relation of microcephaly with Zika virus

We recently accompanied the Ministry of Health of children diagnosed with microcephaly as a result of transmission of the Zika virus from the mother to the baby during pregnancy through the placenta.

Zika fever is caused by the action of the mosquito Aedes aegypti which transmits the disease and its relation to the development of microcephaly (virus activity in the human organism, period of greater vulnerability of the pregnant woman, infection of the fetus, etc.) still remains under investigation, however, it is known that the initial risk is associated with the first three months of gestation.


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