Cerebral Palsy (CP) vs. Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
While both multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy affect the central nervous system and have some symptoms that are similar, the causes are quite different. In fact, there is no known cause for multiple sclerosis while cerebral palsy is believed to be related to something that went wrong either during pregnancy, labor, or shortly after birth.
Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system, and as a result over time it can affect the patient’s vision, speech, minor motor skills, and memory. The condition causes the myelin sheath of the nerves to wear away, thus causing a slowing of the nerve signals and eventual damage to the nerves themselves. The disease is classified as a chronic autoimmune one and affects women more than men. Diagnosis is most common between the ages of 20 and 50.
Causes and Symptoms
At the present time we do not know the cause of MS, but there is some indication that it may be genetic in nature. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease and as such, the body is unable to distinguish between normal tissue and foreign tissue. As a result, it attacks the tissue in the body—specifically the brain and spinal cord.
The symptoms that an individual patient suffers depend on which nerves are involved, but the most common symptoms include:
- Limbs that are weak or numb.
- Reduction in visual capabilities.
- Vision problems such as blurred or double vision.
- Problems with concentration.
The fact that symptoms vary and have the tendency to come and go makes it difficult to diagnose multiple sclerosis. Sometimes the process can take months or years from the onset of the first symptoms. There is no specific test that will diagnose the disease; the doctor must simply rule out other conditions and then it becomes a process of elimination.
Cerebral palsy (CP) affects a person’s body movement as well as muscle control and coordination throughout his or her entire life. There are different levels of severity, and the symptoms may not be noticeable until months or years down the line. If a child has difficulty walking, sitting, or crawling, there is a possibility he or she may have cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy affects the central nervous system. However, CP has several causes that often occur because of problems with the pregnancy or birth rather than having a genetic cause; in other words, it is related to a birth injury rather than being a birth defect. The risk factors that are often associated with cerebral palsy include:
- Infections of the brain.
- Premature birth.
- Presence of genetic disorders.
- Improper development of the brain.
- Insufficient oxygen to the brain.
- Failure to regulate fetal temperature.
Unlike multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy does not become progressively worse over time, although it may lend way to secondary conditions such as tight muscles. Although the two conditions have similar symptoms, they are completely different in their causes, treatments, and future outlook.