According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cerebral palsy develops as a result of a brain malformation or injury before, during, or directly after birth. Because the brain of a fetus or infant is still partially undeveloped at birth, injuries to that area of the body can be particularly serious. The part of the brain that was impacted may control motor functions and speech and can impact a child for the rest of their life. If medical professionals do not provide a reasonable standard of care, the resulting birth injuries can last a lifetime.
If you think your child may have been the victim of medical negligence during birth, you do not have to face the resulting behavioral disabilities in children with cerebral palsy alone. Contact the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-800-222-9529 for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Behavioral Disorders in Children with Cerebral Palsy
A behavioral disorder is defined as frequent, persistent, and problematic behavior that is not socially acceptable and interferes with the activities of daily life. This can include children who have difficulty socializing with their peers, attention problems, hyperactivity, aggression, emotional problems, withdrawal, stubbornness, and anti-social behavior.
Other behavioral disorders that may indicate that a birth injury occurred can include:
- Harming people or animals
- Self-injuring behavior, such as head banging or hair pulling
- Threatening people
- Destroying property
- Sexually inappropriate behavior
Treating Behavioral Disabilities in Children with Cerebral Palsy
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and their behavior has become problematic, there are some things you can do to improve their functioning, including:
- Demonstrating support by making the home environment as stress-free as possible.
- Consulting with professionals who will evaluate, diagnose, and develop a treatment plan.
- If your child has started school, consult with their teacher, school psychologist, or social worker. If not, consult with their pediatrician.
- Having your child evaluated by behavioral health experts so they can offer you appropriate referrals to resources to help you and your family.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be a useful tool when treating behavioral disabilities in children with cerebral palsy. CBT helps patients be more aware of the negative thoughts and emotions that may be generating, amplifying, or otherwise enabling some of their behavioral issues.
Causes, Signs, and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
The most common form of cerebral palsy, congenital cerebral palsy, is caused by damage to the brain before or during birth. Your healthcare provider should be aware of birth injuries that could lead to cerebral palsy and take steps to minimize them.
If the brain damage occurs more than 28 days after birth, the condition is called acquired cerebral palsy. This happens much less frequently and usually only in conjunction with a physical head injury or an infection.
Warning Signs of Cerebral Palsy
If you suspect that your baby or child is affected by cerebral palsy, look for the following symptoms:
- The child may feel ‘floppy’ when you pick them up;
- The child may have muscle spasms or feel stiff;
- The child may have poor posture, slow reflexes, or little muscle control;
- The child may be unable to hold up their head if they are lying on their stomach or seated in a high-chair;
- The child has not hit their developmental milestones such as walking by 18 months or speaking sentences by 24 months;
- The child is not feeding or swallowing well;
- The child favors one side of their body;
- The child is experiencing delays in fine motor skills, such as putting food in their mouth or picking things up;
- The child has difficulties with their vision, hearing, or speech; or
- The child suffers from seizures.
Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is classified by using the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS), the Manual Ability Classification System (MACS), and the Communication Function Classification System (CFCS). These systems can determine the severity of a child’s gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and communication abilities.
Doctors can diagnose cerebral palsy by paying attention to how a child looks when they move, crawl, walk, and eat. An MRI or CT scan can help confirm or rule out their suspicions, but cerebral palsy remains a complex disability diagnosis.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Victims of cerebral palsy fall into several categories depending on the nature and severity of their condition. These include:
- Quadriplegia: a form of bilateral cerebral palsy that affects both arms and legs as well as the face and mouth.
- Diplegia: a form of cerebral palsy that only affects the legs.
- Hemiplegia: a form of unilateral cerebral palsy that affects one side of the body.
- Spastic: the most common form of cerebral palsy, which causes many muscles to become tight, stiff, and rigid.
- Dyskinetic: a form of cerebral palsy which is characterized by involuntary movements
- Ataxic: a form of cerebral palsy that results in shaky movement and poor balance
Get Help Today
Families who have children affected by cerebral palsy as a result of medical negligence deserve compensation for their damages. A birth injury lawyer can help you pursue compensation to help pay for your child’s medical care and ongoing therapeutic needs. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-800-222-9529 to learn more about how a lawyer may be able to help.