Cerebral palsy refers to a group of movement disorders that are permanent. The symptoms vary among each individual, as do the signs associated with the disorder. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage or abnormal development to the areas of the brain that control movement, posture, and balance. Generally, issues occur during pregnancy, however, they may occur either during or shortly after childbirth. Cerebral palsy is the most common movement disorder in the United States. Unfortunately, there is not a cure for the disorder, leaving those diagnosed forced to live with it for the entirety of their life.Different Types of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a medical condition that covers a broad spectrum of neurological disorders that affect motor skills. Some babies who experience brain damage in the womb will display no symptoms, or minimal symptoms, after birth. In other cases, severe brain injuries cause severe cerebral palsy that requires constant around-the-clock care.
Medical doctors diagnose cerebral palsy based on the musculoskeletal difficulties involved. They will analyze scans of the child’s brain on MRI images as well as the child’s motor abilities and any developmental delays. If you are concerned that your child has cerebral palsy, but you are not sure which type of cerebral palsy, an experienced developmental pediatrician or neurologist can help you get the diagnosis process started. Typically, doctors will narrow the diagnosis of cerebral palsy down with the following categories:
- Most cases of cerebral palsy involve spastic cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy happens when the muscles tighten and stiffen, causing increased muscle tone.
- A smaller number of children with a cerebral palsy diagnosis have athetoid cerebral palsy. Those with athetoid cerebral palsy suffer from uncontrollable jerky movements.
- Sometimes, children with cerebral palsy present with more than one type of cerebral palsy. Many children with cerebral palsy have more symptoms of one type of cerebral palsy than the other, however. A child might have mainly spastic cerebral palsy symptoms along with mild to moderate athetoid cerebral palsy symptoms.
Cerebral palsy affects every child differently. Some children with cerebral palsy are able to work while others use a wheelchair or walking aid. However, there are some common characteristics among people with a cerebral palsy diagnosis, including the following:
- Most children who have received a cerebral palsy diagnosis had spastic cerebral palsy
- Cerebral palsy is more common among boys than girls
- More black children than white children have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. White children and Hispanic children are equally likely to have cerebral palsy
- Over half of children who have received a cerebral diagnosis can walk independently
- Many children with cerebral palsy have another medical condition that is co-occurring. 41% of children with cerebral palsy also had epilepsy and 6.9% of children with cerebral palsy experience co-occurring Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Unfortunately, as mentioned, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. Regardless of the type of cerebral palsy that a child has, it will continue throughout his or her lifetime. While medical professionals cannot cure cerebral palsy, they are able to help those affected overcome some, if not more, of their symptoms with ongoing treatment and consistent therapy. Thankfully, cerebral palsy does not get worse over time, however the symptoms may change over the course of an individuals lifetime.
When children receive a cerebral palsy diagnosis, they will often receive a team of specialists. Sometimes children only need temporary physical therapy to help them overcome their motor issues. In other cases, a child with cerebral palsy might not be able to overcome uncontrollable muscles voluntarily, but they might benefit from occupational therapy.
A child might need to continue physical therapy throughout adulthood. Behavioral therapy can also help your child interact with his or her peer and participate well with teachers and others at his or her school. While treatment cannot cure the injury in the child’s brain that caused the cerebral palsy, doctors can help your child by treating the secondary symptoms of cerebral palsy, including the following:
- Social delays
- Developmental delays
- Intellectual delays
- Poor coordination and balance
- Communication difficulties and speech delays
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Hearing and vision difficulties
In some cases, the cause of cerebral palsy is unknown. In other cases, negligent doctors and medical professionals cause a child’s cerebral palsy. For example, if a doctor failed to notice that the cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck in the womb, the doctor could be negligent for the cerebral palsy caused by a lack of oxygen flow to the brain. If you believe that your child’s cerebral palsy is due to another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today to schedule your initial consultation. Call our office at (704) 370-2828 to evaluate your options or fill out our contact form. Our attorneys can walk you through your options and build a successful case plan for you. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville, and Monroe.
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