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Understanding the Signs of Cerebral Palsy

There are several different signs that your child might have a neurologic condition such as cerebral palsy. Signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy generally begin to appear during infancy or preschool years. The symptoms of cerebral palsy overlap with the symptoms of neurological disorders. It is important to keep careful track of your child’s symptoms to help your child’s doctor evaluate them. Some of your child’s symptoms may not be readily apparent because your child is not able to communicate them.

Keep a Record of Your Child’s Symptoms

As busy parents, it can be easy to forget all of the potential symptoms of cerebral palsy. Keeping a journal where you write down anything unusual that you notice can help you keep an accurate record to share with your child’s medical providers. Anytime you notice that your child’s development seems to have fallen behind, or that he or she is struggling with tasks that other toddlers easily perform, you should contact your pediatrician as soon as possible. Your pediatrician will begin evaluating your child and narrowing down a possible diagnosis.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is caused by a congenital malformation of the brain, or an injury before, during, or shortly after birth. When the area of the brain that is responsible for motor function becomes damaged, it can negatively affect your child’s motor function and development of muscles and bones. Cerebral palsy often happens along with other medical conditions that are independent of cerebral palsy or directly caused by cerebral palsy. While you observe your child’s behavior, look for any abnormalities in the development of their motor skills and speech.

Abnormal Muscle Tone

Cerebral palsy affects a child’s brain. The damage within the brain impairs the brain’s ability to communicate properly with joints and muscles. The muscles that become affected are either spastic or “high tone” or loose with “low tone.” Both high and low muscle tone can make it hard or impossible to walk independently. When muscles do not work in unison, your child will not be able to perform routine activities or engage in basic functions such as lifting an object or standing up.

Muscle spasms, the appearance of overly rigid muscles can indicate cerebral palsy. Relaxed muscles and muscles that will not tense up properly when they are activated can also indicate cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy can affect different parts of the body. In some children, their mouths may be affected the most. Other times, only one half of the body is affected, or only the legs will be affected.

Poor Motor Control and Coordination

One of the signs of cerebral palsy is delayed development of muscles combined with an inability to properly control movement. When the brain cannot properly control muscles, motor function, and coordination can become impaired. Poor muscle control can show itself in several different ways. Muscle tension or muscle spasms can impair movement.

Dyskinesia involves slow movements that are uncontrollable. Ataxia is another form of impairment that might affect fine motor function. For example, ataxia can make it difficult to grip a small object. When a child receives a diagnosis of ataxic cerebral palsy, they often struggle with tasks like tying their shoes, buttoning their shirts, and typing.

Impaired Reflexes

Irregular reflexes are another common sign of cerebral palsy. They exhibit the inability of the brain to coordinate muscle actions in unison when responding to some type of stimulus. If you suspect that your child has a developmental or neurological disorder, your child’s doctor will probably instruct you to look for specific forms of reflex impairment. If your infant is held upright and his or her foot touches an object, the child’s leg will usually flex and tense. When this reflex continues beyond five months, it can indicate motor impairment.

Balance Issues

The muscles that are responsible for walking and posture are often unbalanced in children with cerebral palsy. When a child has hemiplegic cerebral palsy, one vertical side of the body becomes negatively affected. When a child has diplegic cerebral palsy, both of the legs will be affected. Children with cerebral palsy are often delayed when it comes to walking, and they might require assistance to be able to walk because of poor balance.

Contact Our Cerebral Palsy Law Firm Today

If you believe that a doctor or medical professional’s negligence caused your child’s cerebral palsy, you may have a right to bring a lawsuit for medical malpractice. Contact our experienced and accomplished Charlotte medical malpractice attorneys of Arnold & Smith PLLC today to schedule a case evaluation. Call our office at (704) 370-2828 to evaluate your options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville, and Monroe.

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