About one of every 323 babies born in America will have cerebral palsy. This term applies to a wide range of symptoms resulting from brain damage sustained in the womb during fetal development or during childbirth.
The term “cerebral palsy” does not exactly apply to any one specific set of symptoms; four general categories of cerebral palsy exist, and children born with any type of cerebral palsy will face unpredictable symptoms.
Some children with cerebral palsy display few to no symptoms and go on to lead relatively normal lives while other children with more advanced cerebral palsy experience completely debilitating symptoms that require ongoing care for the rest of their lives.
How can Parents Identify Cerebral Palsy?
Advanced cases of cerebral palsy are typically noticeable immediately after birth while some cases may not manifest noticeable symptoms until after the newborn stage of development. The early signs of cerebral palsy manifest in different ways for children of different age groups.
- In a baby younger than six months old, the most common symptoms include the baby overextending his or her back and neck when held, almost as if the baby is pushing away from whomever is holding him or her. A baby with cerebral palsy at this age may feel excessively floppy or stiff, and his or her head will lag when someone picks him or her up while the baby is lying on his or her back. Additionally, babies younger than six months old with cerebral palsy often cross their legs or scissor them when picked up.
- A baby older than six months could start showing different cerebral palsy symptoms, such as seeming to be unable to roll over in either direction, inability to bring his or her hands together, difficulty bringing his or her hands to his or her mouth, or keeping one hand in a clenched fist while using only the other hand to reach.
- Babies older than ten months with cerebral palsy may not crawl on all fours and instead hop on their knees or scoot around on their bottoms. They may also crawl in a lopsided manner, often dragging one hand and one leg while using the other hand and leg to crawl.
These are just a few of the earliest detectable signs of cerebral palsy. Generally, the main identifying characteristic of cerebral palsy is musculoskeletal difficulties that range in severity from case to case.
Some children may only show minimal difficulty with movement in the earliest stages of their lives and then go on to display symptoms of secondary conditions, of which many are possible from cerebral palsy.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Parents of children with cerebral palsy must determine the type of cerebral palsy their children have. While these different types may entail different symptoms, it is also possible for a child to display symptoms of multiple types of cerebral palsy.
Ultimately, the symptoms vary from child to child and there is no real way to predict what difficulties a child with cerebral palsy will face in the future.
- Most cerebral palsy diagnoses involve spastic cerebral palsy, which entails irregular excessive muscle tone, muscle tightness, and muscle stiffness. About 70% of all cerebral palsy cases fall under the spastic category.
- Roughly 10% to 20% of cerebral palsy cases entail athetoid cerebral palsy, causing involuntary muscle movements.
- 5% to 10% of children with cerebral palsy have ataxic cerebral palsy that interferes with balance and muscle movements.
- About 10% of all cerebral palsy cases are mixed diagnoses. Children with mixed cerebral palsy often experience symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy with the symptoms of one type being dominant. For example, a child with a mixed cerebral palsy diagnosis may have strong ataxic symptoms and minimal spastic symptoms.
A child’s diagnosis as to which type of cerebral palsy typically informs the extent of his or her musculoskeletal issues, but the secondary complications that might arise from cerebral palsy are unpredictable, and most children with cerebral palsy experience at least a few symptoms beyond muscle-related issues.
Identifying Secondary Symptoms
Cerebral palsy results from brain damage, and that brain damage can do more than just interrupt musculoskeletal development and cause movement-related issues. Many children with cerebral palsy also experience a range of other physical, psychological, and developmental symptoms.
- Many children with cerebral palsy fall on the autism spectrum.
- About 10% of all children with cerebral palsy also experience severe vision difficulties.
- Hearing problems manifest in about one in every 25 cerebral palsy diagnoses.
- Cerebral palsy can cause developmental delays, leading to children with the condition falling behind peers in school and social situations.
This is not an exhaustive list; cerebral palsy can cause many other symptoms that may improve with time and consistent treatment or pose difficulties for the rest of a child’s life.
If your child developed cerebral palsy as the result of negligent prenatal care, excessive force during delivery, or any other kind of medical negligence during pregnancy or childbirth, you may have grounds for a lawsuit against the responsible party.
Contact Rosenfeld Injury Law, LLC today and schedule a free consultation to find out what type of compensation your family could secure from a successful cerebral palsy lawsuit.