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What is Cerebral Palsy?

Physical Therapy Treatment CP ChildCerebral palsy is a neurological condition that affects one out of about every 320 American live births. Roughly one child is born with cerebral palsy each day in the U.S., and this condition entails a very wide range of possible symptoms.

“Cerebral palsy” is a blanket term for musculoskeletal impairment and other symptoms resulting from brain damage, typically sustained before, during, or shortly after birth.

How Does Cerebral Palsy Happen?

Any type of brain damage a fetus sustains during prenatal development could cause cerebral palsy. A prenatal injury that interrupts brain cell migration can cause this condition with unpredictable symptoms. Complicated pregnancies, preterm delivery, and oxygen deprivation can all cause cerebral palsy.

Some cases of cerebral palsy are unavoidable. Even with thorough and professional prenatal care, some children will experience distress in the womb, or a pregnant mother could have a medical complication that interferes with healthy fetal development.

Most doctors know how to spot the signs of an unborn child at risk of developing cerebral palsy and take appropriate action. Unfortunately, some doctors actually cause cerebral palsy due to negligence.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a blanket term for muscular development problems caused by brain damage, but the condition generally entails different symptoms for every person born with it.

The main characterizing symptoms of cerebral palsy are improper muscle tone and difficulty with muscular movement. Children with cerebral palsy may also display abnormal reflexes, difficulty with coordination and balance, impaired gross motor functions, and diminished oral motor functions.

Cerebral palsy often causes secondary complications beyond musculoskeletal difficulties. Many children with cerebral palsy have seizure disorders, behavioral delays, and vision and hearing problems.

Many children with cerebral palsy also display signs of autism and behavioral delays, often falling behind their peers in school. Depending on the type of cerebral palsy a child has, he or she may also experience a wide range of spastic symptoms and diminished motor control.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

There is no one firm diagnosis for cerebral palsy. Some children who experience brain damage in the womb display minimal or even no noticeable symptoms and carry on with relatively normal lives while others suffer from profoundly disabling symptoms. Severe cases sometimes require constant 24/7 in-home medical care.

Medical professionals diagnose cerebral palsy based on the type of musculoskeletal difficulties involved, but any cerebral palsy case may entail secondary symptoms that interfere with various aspects of life.

  • About 70% of all cerebral palsy cases qualify as spastic cerebral palsy. This entails muscle stiffness and tightness with increased muscle tone.

  • 10% to 20% of children with cerebral palsy have athetoid cerebral palsy, causing uncontrollable movements.

  • 5% to 10% of children with cerebral palsy have ataxic cerebral palsy, which causes difficulties with coordination and balance.

  • About 10% of children with cerebral palsy have mixed diagnoses, entailing symptoms of the other types of cerebral palsy. Most children with mixed cerebral palsy have more significant symptoms of one type than others. For example, a child could have significant spastic cerebral palsy symptoms accompanied by mild to moderate athetoid cerebral palsy symptoms.

Regardless of what type of cerebral palsy a child develops, the condition is not curable and will persist throughout his or her lifetime.

While the condition itself is not curable, many symptoms are treatable and some children born with cerebral palsy learn to overcome some of their symptoms with consistent therapy and ongoing treatment.

Treatments for Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy treatment varies from case to case. Some children may only require regular physical therapy to overcome coordination and muscle movement issues while others may be completely unable to control muscle movements voluntarily. Cerebral palsy treatment often focuses on the secondary symptoms of cerebral palsy, of which there are many:

  • Vision and hearing difficulties
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Speech delays and communication difficulties
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Intellectual delays
  • Behavioral and social delays

Children with cerebral palsy often undergo physical therapy that can last through adulthood, behavioral therapy to help them reach the social levels of their peers, and various other treatments like speech therapy, occupational therapy, and even art and music therapy.

When Negligence Causes Cerebral Palsy

Some children experience unavoidable difficulties in the womb that lead to cerebral palsy diagnoses while others suffer injuries at the hands of negligent doctors.

If a doctor fails to provide acceptable prenatal care, does not address signs of fetal distress, or mishandles an infant during a childbirth procedure, the doctor could easily cause cerebral palsy.

Any type of injury to a fetus’s brain in the womb from physical injury or oxygen deprivation will likely cause some type of cerebral palsy. Depending on the fetus’s stage of development and the extent of the brain damage, the child could face an unpredictable range of symptoms.

If you believe a negligent medical professional caused your child to develop cerebral palsy, contact Rosenfeld Injury Law, LLC to schedule a free case evaluation. Once we review the details of your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis, we can help you better understand your options for legal recovery, potentially securing compensation for your child’s future medical expenses and your other damages.


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