“Cerebral palsy” is the medical term for a group of conditions that involve musculoskeletal impairment from brain damage. Cerebral palsy is a neuromuscular condition, but it does not entail a specific set of symptoms. No two children who develop cerebral palsy will have the same experiences or struggle with the same symptoms.
While some children learn to manage their symptoms with consistent treatment and rehabilitative therapies, some will struggle with permanent disabilities from cerebral palsy.
Medical professionals can treat the symptoms of cerebral palsy and help a child with the condition manage his or her secondary symptoms, but the brain damage itself is irreversible and uncurable. Every child with cerebral palsy will experience the condition differently, and parents should prepare for a wide range of unpredictable symptoms.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy does not define a specific set of symptoms; it is a blanket term for a wide range of neuromuscular symptoms resulting from brain damage sustained before, during, or shortly after childbirth. Any type of brain damage can potentially cause cerebral palsy, including brain damage from physical trauma, infection, or oxygen deprivation.
Medical professionals categorize cerebral palsy into four main categories, but it is vital for parents of children with cerebral palsy to remember that many children with this condition struggle with more than one type of cerebral palsy, and the type of cerebral palsy a child has does not directly inform the symptoms and/or disabilities he or she will face later in life.
- Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of this condition, typically manifesting symptoms in about 70% of children with cerebral palsy. The main neuromuscular symptoms of spastic cerebral palsy include irregular muscle development, hypertonia (increased muscle tone), and muscle stiffness. Spastic cerebral palsy could potentially prevent a child with this type of cerebral palsy from using his or her limbs. If this condition affects all four limbs, it may qualify as spastic quadriplegia.
- Athetoid cerebral palsy manifests in about 20% of all cerebral palsy diagnoses. This type of cerebral palsy typically affects the upper body more than the lower extremities. Some of the most common characterizing symptoms of athetoid cerebral palsy include difficulty holding up the head or poor oral muscle control, which interferes with eating and swallowing.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy is the least common variety of the condition, only affecting 5% to 10% of all children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This form of cerebral palsy typically involves poor balance and a lack of muscle coordination. Many children with ataxic cerebral palsy have difficulty walking and staying upright, but many learn to manage independent mobility with the use of assistive devices like crutches or walkers and consistent physical therapy. Ataxic cerebral palsy also has a high chance of causing language problems.
- About 10% of all cerebral palsy diagnoses are mixed diagnoses, meaning they involve symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy. Typically, the symptoms of one type with overshadow the other symptoms. The most common combination is spastic and athetoid cerebral palsy.
The symptoms of any type of cerebral palsy may potentially affect one area of the body or the entire body. Additionally, most children with cerebral palsy of any kind also experience secondary complications.
Secondary Complications From Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is not a firm set of symptoms; it is a term that refers to many possible neurological and muscular conditions resulting from brain damage. Many children with cerebral palsy struggle with various secondary complications:
- Children with athetoid cerebral palsy often have difficulty eating and may require feeding tubes.
- Many children with cerebral palsy struggle with seizure disorders, ranging from occasional mild seizures to many severe seizures every day. Epilepsy appears in about 25% of all cerebral palsy diagnoses.
- About half of all children with cerebral palsy suffer from intellectual impairment.
- About half of all children with cerebral palsy suffer from chronic pain of some kind.
- One in ten children with cerebral palsy have severe vision disorders.
- Children with cerebral palsy often experience language delays and other developmental delays.
This list represents only a fraction of the possible medical complications a child with cerebral palsy could experience. The severity and extent of these symptoms typically hinges on the severity of the initial brain damage that caused the condition in the first place.
When cerebral palsy results from medical negligence like poor prenatal care or failure to address fetal distress, parents of a child born with cerebral palsy must know their rights when it comes to holding the responsible party accountable.
Securing Compensation for Medical Expenses and Other Damages
Cerebral palsy is a permanent medical condition. There is no cure, only treatment for the various life-altering symptoms the condition might entail. No two children will experience cerebral palsy in the same way, and some may only experience minimal disruption in an otherwise normal life.
Other children are not so lucky and require constant daily medical supervision. Regardless of the type or extent of the damage from medical negligence, the attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Law, LLC can help parents of children with cerebral palsy determine their legal options for recovery.
Contact us today and request a free consultation if you believe you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim concerning your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis, and we can let you know how our firm can help.