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Cerebral Palsy Information

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of movement disorders that come from defects in the brain. This brain damage happens shortly before, during, or after birth. Brain cells die because they lack oxygen to keep them nourished.

The muscles of the parts of the body controlled by the damaged areas of the brain don’t work properly and affect how a person moves. While the brain damage is incurable, it does not progress. The symptoms of the disorder, that is muscle problems, may worsen however, especially if treatment is not begun when the diagnosis is made.

Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

The results of cerebral palsy brain damage may be hard to discern at first in the infant. Most children, however, are diagnosed with the disorder by the time they are three years old. Parents may notice some of the earliest signs when their baby fails to meet the normal milestones that other babies of the same age are meeting.

The infant with CP may be delayed in:

  • Rolling over
  • Grasping objects
  • Sitting
  • Crawling
  • Beginning to walk
  • Reaching with one hand

Parents might see some of the following symptoms of CP:

  • Muscles tone that is too rigid or too floppy
  • Swallowing problems and drooling
  • Trouble speaking
  • Spastic movements
  • Tremor
  • In the older child, dragging a foot or leg when walking and problems controlling small movements of the hand

Treatment Options

Cerebral palsy treatment should begin as soon as possible so that the problems with muscle movement don’t in themselves cause further problems. Treatment may continue throughout the life of the patient, changing as the child grows, becomes a teenager, and then an adult.

The patient with CP is helped with the following types of treatment. They are aimed at enabling the patient to gain better muscle control and adapt to their condition. These treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy to loosen tight muscles
  • Occupational therapy during which patients learn to use special devices to deal with their disability
  • Speech therapy (the muscles of the face, mouth, and tongue also can be affected by CP)
  • Drugs to control seizures, pain and muscle spasms
  • Surgery to correct anatomical abnormalities and release tight muscles
  • Dorsal rhizotomy for some patients to reduce spasticity and help movement. This surgical procedure can help improve a child’s ability to walk. It is best performed when the child is between ages two and five.
  • Braces and other orthotic devices
  • Wheelchairs and rolling walkers
  • Aids to communication, including voice synthesizers

Living With Cerebral Palsy

There are many types of cerebral palsy and the condition varies greatly in severity. Some people with CP, if their motor function is not severely compromised, can live near normal lives and have a normal life span. Others with more severe forms of the condition may die as young children. Between these two extremes is a wide range of CP difficulties.

Help for Parents

Many organizations are available with resources to help parents and families of patients with CP. If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, contact our birth injury lawyers for access to helpful resources. In addition to joining support groups and learning how to cope with the challenges ahead, our lawyers may be able to help you collect compensation that can pay for expensive treatments and care for your child.

To find out how we can help you and your child, please contact us today.