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Cerebral Palsy and Physical Disabilities

Cerebral palsy is a condition caused by damage to the motor (movement) regions of the brain. Most of the disabilities associated with this damage have a physical impact on the patient's body. They affect the child's movement, balance, posture and coordination.

Some of the early signs of cerebral palsy may be noticed first by the parents when they see their child is not reaching the developmental milestones of movement as quickly as other children. These include:

  • Controlling the head
  • Rolling over
  • Turning the head towards a noise
  • Reaching for an object
  • Sitting up
  • Crawling
  • "Cruising"
  • Standing
  • Walking

There are a number of ways to classify the different kinds of cerebral palsy. One way is to describe the types by motor dysfunction. The movement disorders associated with CP may be categorized into three types: spastic, ataxic and dyskinetic.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Between 70 and 80 percent of people with cerebral palsy have the spastic type. These patients have increased muscle tone. Their muscles remain in a state of continual contraction, making the limbs stiff, rigid, and difficult to flex or relax. Movement is jerky and clumsy. Not only are the arms and legs affected, the tongue, mouth and throat may be affected as well. This can make eating and swallowing difficult.

Spastic cerebral palsy stresses the body parts and can lead to:

  • Painful joint deformities
  • Scoliosis (deformation of the spine)
  • Hip dislocation
  • Limb deformities

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

This kind of cerebral palsy influences coordination, balance and posture. Patients often walk with the legs far apart and unsteadily. Eye movement and depth perception are affected as well as fine motor skills such as hand-eye coordination, disturbing such tasks as writing and drawing.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Two types of dyskinetic CP are described:

  • Athetoid cerebral palsy: Patients with athetoid cerebral palsy have difficulty controlling movements of the arms, legs and hands.
  • Dystonic cerebral palsy: These patients' trunk muscles are affected more than the limbs. They often have a fixed, twisted posture.

A fourth category is called mixed and refers to a combination of spastic and non-spastic movements. This most often occurs when some limbs are spastic and others are athetoid.

The abnormal movements of CP have their own descriptions:

  • Athetosis or slow, repetitive writhing movements
  • Chorea or movement that are non-repetitive, but jerky and shaky
  • Choreoathetoid, or a mixture of Athetosis and chorea movements that are uneven, winding and curving
  • Dystonia or uncontrolled movement and posture
  • Ataxia or poorly balanced and coordinated

Contact a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer

If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, we may be able to help you pursue damages. To learn more, please contact our cerebral palsy lawyers today. We will review the details of your case to determine if you qualify for compensation.