Cerebral palsy (CP) is a birth injury that can cause lifelong problems with movement and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to the developing brain, most often during pregnancy.
CP is the most common disability affecting motor function in childhood. It occurs in about 2 per 1,000 live births in the United States. CP can range from mild to severe, and it can affect any part of the body.
Most children with CP need special education and therapy to help them reach their full potential. There is no cure for CP, but early intervention and treatment can improve a child’s quality of life.
Because CP causes so many difficulties for a child, it is important to contact an attorney who can help you get the right support and resources for your child.
What Are Cerebral Palsy Symptoms?
Depending on the severity of the condition, cerebral palsy symptoms can vary from one person to the next. In general, symptoms may include:
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
- Impaired movement
- Impaired coordination
- Tremors or involuntary muscle contractions
- Excessive drooling or difficulty swallowing
- Delays in reaching milestones, like crawling or sitting up
- Difficulty with fine motor skills such as writing or using utensils
- Abnormal posture
- Changes in sensation, such as increased sensitivity to touch or decreased ability to feel pain
- Urinary incontinence
- Sleep disorders
CP can also lead to other problems, such as:
Intellectual Disability: This is when the brain has difficulty processing information. This can cause problems with learning, thinking, and problem-solving.
Seizures: These are sudden bursts of electrical activity in the brain that can cause convulsions, muscle spasms, and changes in consciousness.
Feeding Difficulties: This is when the muscles used for eating and swallowing are weak or have difficulty moving in a coordinated way. This can make it difficult to eat and may lead to choking or aspiration (when food or liquids enter the lungs).
Vision Problems: This is when the muscles that control the eyes are weak or have difficulty moving in a coordinated way. This can cause problems with focusing, eye tracking, and depth perception.
Hearing Loss: This is when there is damage to the structures of the ear or the auditory nerve. This can cause problems with hearing and balance.
Speech Difficulties: This is when the muscles used for speaking are weak or have difficulty moving in a coordinated way. This can cause problems with articulation, voice quality, and loudness.
The symptoms of cerebral palsy may be mild or severe. In some cases, they may not become apparent until a child is several months or years old. If you are concerned that your child may have cerebral palsy, it is important to talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a significant difference in a child’s development.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the developing brain, typically prior to or during childbirth. This damage can occur due to a number of different factors, including:
- Infections contracted by the mother during pregnancy, such as rubella or toxoplasmosis
- Lack of oxygen to the brain during labor and delivery
- Trauma to the head during labor and delivery
- Bleeding or inflammation in the brain after birth
- Abnormalities in the structure of the brain that are present at birth
Despite significant medical advances, the exact cause of cerebral palsy cannot always be determined. In some cases, multiple factors may contribute to the development of the condition.
While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, early intervention and specialized therapy can improve a child’s ability to function and develop skills. With proper care and support, many people with cerebral palsy live full, happy lives.
How Is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
Cerebral palsy is typically diagnosed during infancy or early childhood. In some cases, it may not be possible to make a definitive diagnosis until your child is older.
There’s no single test used to diagnose cerebral palsy. Your child’s doctor will likely use a combination of tests and observations to arrive at a diagnosis.
During an initial examination, the doctor will likely:
- Check for muscle rigidity, tremors, or other unusual movements
- Note the location and severity of any muscle abnormalities
- Look for signs of developmental delays
- Assess your child’s motor skills and mental development using standardized tests, such as the Bayley Scales of Infant Development or the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales
These tests can help identify delays in physical, social, and cognitive development. They may also be used to track your child’s progress over time.
Imaging tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT), may be used to check for damage to the brain. These tests can provide information about the location and extent of the injury.
In some cases, an EEG may be used to help diagnose cerebral palsy. This test measures electrical activity in the brain. Abnormalities in brain activity may be a sign of damage to the motor control center of the brain.
Nerve Conduction Study
A nerve conduction study may also be performed. This test measures how well electrical signals are conducted through the nerves and muscles. Abnormalities may be a sign of damage to the nerves that control muscle movement.
During reflex testing, the doctor will check for certain reflexes, such as the Moro reflex, which is present at birth. The absence of this reflex may be a sign of cerebral palsy.
When You Should Contact an Attorney after a Birth Injury
No parent wants to believe that their child has suffered a birth injury. Unfortunately, birth injuries are not as rare as you might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 7 out of every 1,000 babies born in the United States each year suffer from a birth injury.
If you suspect that your child’s birth injury was caused by medical negligence, it is important to contact an experienced birth injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you investigate the circumstances surrounding your child’s birth and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Contact TorkLaw Today
If your child has suffered a birth injury, the experienced birth injury attorneys at TorkLaw can help. We have represented many families who have been impacted by birth injuries, including cerebral palsy, and we are dedicated to fighting for the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.