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Signs of Cerebral Palsy

what-are-signs-of-cerebral-palsy The signs that your child has a developmental or neurological disorder may not be immediately apparent, primarily because he or she is unable to communicate his or her symptoms.

In addition, many neurological disorders have symptoms in common or may be associative conditions that accompany the diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

If you begin to notice that your child’s development seems to have fallen behind or he or she is struggling with menial tasks that other toddlers are able to perform, you should contact your pediatrician and begin the process of narrowing down the possible causes of your concerns and determining the exact cause of your child’s condition.

Contact a Cerebral Palsy Attorney

As soon as you suspect cerebral palsy, you should contact an attorney. The statute of limitations may begin to run as soon as you should have known that your child had suffered fetal brain damage.

Call an attorney with Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers to schedule your free initial consultation.

When Is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?

An early diagnosis is the key for cerebral palsy. This could give the child intensive treatment at an early age. If the child meets the risk factors (such as gene mutations and is born prematurely) and shows early signs, the parents should not hesitate to go for testing.

In the best-case scenario, the child does not have cerebral palsy, or they have a mild form of the disease. Regardless, an official diagnosis could allow parents to get both legal and medical help.

Know the Cerebral Palsy Risk Factors

Parents should already be aware of the fact that their child may be at an increased risk of cerebral palsy based on certain risk factors. These include:

  • Low birth weight
  • Brain infections in early childhood
  • A difficult and traumatic delivery
  • Premature birth
  • Family history

The Different Types of Cerebral Palsy

You should also know the different types of this disease to spot some of the signs and symptoms. Different types of CP vary in their manifestations. They include:

  • Spastic CP - this type of cerebral palsy has stiff muscles and affects the child's movements
  • Dyskinetic cerebral palsy - this is a movement disorder with uncontrollable movements
  • Ataxic CP - ataxic cp has poor balance and coordination
  • Mixed CP - with mixed cerebral palsy, the child could have a combination of any of the above forms of the disease

All of the different kinds of cerebral palsy will have abnormal brain development. Know the signs and symptoms of each.

Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury during or following birth or a birth defect that affects the area of the brain responsible for motor function and the growth and development of muscles and bones.

It is often accompanied by other conditions which exist independently of a cerebral palsy diagnosis or which are directly caused by the symptoms of cerebral palsy itself.

Observing your child’s behavior and any abnormalities in the development of motor function is the first step in diagnosing the condition.

A child develops at different rates, but parents should have an idea when something is wrong. They should take toddlers for an initial physical exam at the first sign of abnormal development. Then, they should have repeated tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Initial Symptoms and Signs of Cerebral Palsy

The signs and symptoms to look for include the following:

  • Trouble with muscle movement
  • Decreased muscle tone
  • Floppy muscle tone
  • Missing the usual infant milestones
  • The child displays unusual postures
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Trouble with voluntary movements (i.e., making involuntary movements)
  • Abnormal posture

Abnormal Muscle Tone Is One of the Cerebral Palsy Signs

Cerebral palsy impairs the ability of the brain to communicate properly with muscles and joints. Muscles need to work in unison to perform routine and desired functions such as to stand up or lift an object.

The muscles affected by developmental disorders or impairment become atrophied and the result is physical abnormalities in muscle tone such as the appearance of overly rigid muscles or abnormally loose or relaxed muscles that do not tense properly when activated.

Muscle spasms may indicate problems with muscle tone as well. Babies' low muscle tone could lead to problems that include:

  • Stiff poor muscle control
  • Floppy muscles
  • Impairment in physical development
  • Tight muscles
  • Posture delayed development
  • Difficulties with the child's body movements

Poor Coordination and Motor Control

The delayed development of muscles combined with the inability of the brain to properly control movement can result in the impairment of fine motor functions and coordination.

This can manifest itself in numerous ways such as in spastic movements— in which muscle tension or spasms impair movement— or dyskinesia which is displayed by slow and stressful movements that are uncontrollable.

Another form of impairment called ataxia may affect finer motor functions that require coordination such as gripping a small object. This results in menial tasks such as writing, tying shoes and buttoning a shirt becoming difficult for children later in life.

Impaired Reflexes

Irregular reflexes are often a sign of cerebral palsy because it exhibits the inability of the brain to coordinate the actions of muscles in unison when responding to some form of stimulus.

When suspecting that a child has a developmental or neurological disorder, doctors instruct parents to look for specific forms of reflex impairment that signal the possibility of cerebral palsy.

For example, if an infant is held upright and his or her foot touches an object or surface, it is common for the child’s leg to tense and flex in the first five months of life.

When this reflex persists beyond five months, it can indicate motor impairment. Continued neurological problems are a sign that something may be structurally wrong with the baby's brain.

Postural Indicators

Observing a baby’s posture can indicate the need for concern due to the effects that cerebral palsy and other developmental disorders have on muscles that support posture and balance.

If your child’s posture is not symmetrical, it can indicate the need for further testing.

Doctors typically recommend adjusting the position of the child and recording how he or she responds during the initial stage of diagnosis when parents are instructed to observe their children more closely.

Balance

The same muscles responsible for posture have an impact on balance as well and diminished motor function exacerbates balancing issues.

Children with cerebral palsy may require assistance walking due to the inability to balance and, in extreme cases, may be confined to the use of a wheelchair.

Gross Motor Function Impairment

Gross motor function is defined as the ability of the body to use major muscle groups in fluid motions. Children with impaired gross motor function may have difficulty with tasks such as crawling, walking, running or rising from a sitting to a standing position.

One of the signs of cerebral palsy is the delay in the development of these skills or marked impairments in the ability to perform gross motor functions.

Fine Motor Function Impairment

Actions such as writing, gripping onto an object or tying a shoe require fine motor skills. Cerebral palsy may impact a child’s ability to perform the smaller and more detailed movements required to perform these simpler tasks.

When observing a child for signs of fine motor function impairment, the strength of his or her grip and ability to wrap his or her fingers around an object are considered.

Oral Motor Function

The inability to form words or make certain sounds can be the result of impaired oral motor function as the brain struggles to communicate properly with muscles responsible for the movement of the mouth, throat and vocal chords.

This can also result in excessive drooling and difficulty swallowing or breathing and could become dangerous if the child experiences these difficulties while eating or drinking. Oral motor function impairment can also lead to pneumonia and an increased chance of infections and other secondary conditions.

What Happens When Doctors Diagnose Cerebral Palsy?

The diagnosis of a child with cerebral palsy is life changing and it can be difficult to accept and adjust to the reality of caring for a loved one with this devastating condition. You would immediately begin to seek therapy and help.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC strives to make this period of adjustment more bearable for people just like you by helping you learn the exact cause of your child’s injury and exploring ways of ensuring you will be able to provide the care that he or she deserves.

You will both need to look back to figure out what may have caused this complex disability, while looking towards the future to try to get your child on track to meet developmental milestones.

Attorneys Helping Families Impacted by Cerebral Palsy

Contact us today for more information about cerebral palsy, your rights as a parent and how we can best represent your legal interests. We will help you seek financial compensation if someone else was at fault for your child's condition.

Cerebral palsy is an expensive condition to treat, and you will need money both in the short and long run. If we are unable to recover compensation on your behalf, you will owe us nothing for our services.

View our specific practice pages on Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, Spastic Cerebral Palsy and Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy

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