Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that affect a person’s motor functions. Depending on how severe it is, it can affect a person’s ability to sit, walk, and move, as well as their ability to learn and live independently. The medical costs for children with cerebral palsy are between 10 and 25 times higher than those for children without cerebral palsy or intellectual disabilities. Estimates of the lifetime care costs for individuals with cerebral palsy in the form of therapy, surgeries, medicines, and assistive care can surpass $1.5 million.
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Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is one of the most commonly occurring childhood disabilities in the United States. It can develop at any time as a result of damage to the white matter of the brain responsible for motor control. It often develops from birth-related injuries sustained by a newborn or infant during or soon after delivery.
Some of the leading causes of cerebral palsy are:
- Brain damage sustained before, during, or soon after birth
- Insufficient oxygen supply during birth
- Infections in the mother or baby
- Medical negligence, such as the incorrect use of delivery equipment or diagnostic or administrative errors
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Types of Cerebral Palsy
The severity of cerebral palsy is categorized on a scale of one to five. The higher the level, the more severe is the disability. Any compensation payouts you receive will take this level into account, so it is important to accurately assess your child’s illness and determine what his or her disability level is.
- Level 1: At this level, the patient can walk without any serious limitations.
- Level 2: At this level, the patient can walk long distances without serious limitations but cannot run or jump. Also, he or she may require assistive devices such as leg or arm braces when they first begin to walk, and they may require the use of a wheelchair to get around when they are outside their home.
- Level 3: At this level, the patient can sit with a little support and can stand without any support but he or she may require assistive devices such as a walker or a cane while walking indoors. A wheelchair may be needed to get around while outside the home.
- Level 4: At this level, the patient can walk using an assistive device but he or she requires support while sitting.
- Level 5: At this level, the patient requires support to maintain the position of his or her head and neck. They also require support to sit and stand and may or may not be able to control a motorized wheelchair.
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Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
The importance of correctly diagnosing cerebral palsy cannot be stressed enough. Without an accurate diagnosis, you cannot start the patient on a treatment regimen, and you also cannot predict how the illness may affect the patient.
To diagnose cerebral palsy, a complete medical history is required. This involves undergoing a physical exam and evaluating the patient’s symptoms. It may also involve:
- Conducting tests to evaluate the brain’s electrical activity. This test is often conducted when the patient exhibits signs of epilepsy or has seizures.
- Conducting an MRI to identify brain injuries or abnormalities.
- Conducting a CT scan to reveal brain damage.
- Obtaining a blood sample to test for infections or possible bleeding disorders.
Other tests may be conducted by a neurological specialist to detect:
- Loss of vision or impaired vision, such as blurred vision
- Loss of hearing or deafness
- Delays in reaching speech milestones
- Movement disorders
- Intellectual disabilities
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Other Conditions Associated with Cerebral Palsy
Patients who suffer from cerebral palsy can exhibit a wide range of additional symptoms. Some of these are as follows:
- Excessive drooling
- Problems with communication
- Speech and language disorders
- Spinal deformities or growth abnormalities
- Muscle locking and an inability to move the limbs in certain ways
- Poor bone density, which can lead to easy and frequent fractures
- Dental issues
Treating Cerebral Palsy
Patients who suffer from cerebral palsy often require long-term medical care, and they may need all of the following:
- Physical therapy to improve strength, flexibility, balance, and mobility.
- Medication to reduce muscle tightness, improve functional abilities, treat pain, and manage other complications.
- Speech and language therapy to improve communication or to teach sign language. The patient may also be taught how to use communication devices such as a computer that is equipped with a voice synthesizer.
- Surgery may be needed to realign the patient’s bones or joints, cut the nerves to dysfunctional muscles or spastic muscles, or to reduce pain and improve mobility.
Receiving a cerebral palsy diagnosis for a newborn or a young child will lead to a wide range of new challenges that you and your family will have to face To care for your child as well as yourself, you can do the following:
- Foster your child’s independence and encourage efforts that exhibit independence, irrespective of how small they may be.
- Speak on your child’s behalf by asking tough questions when it comes to dealing with physicians, therapists, or teachers.
- Join groups, organizations, or counseling services that can help you and support you while dealing with your child’s illness.
Because the types of brain damage that lead to cerebral palsy do not heal over time, cerebral palsy is a permanent condition, and dealing with it becomes a life-long endeavor. However, since the treatment of cerebral palsy and the diagnostic tests needed to properly identify it are costly, families tend to face a great deal of stress when it comes to meeting their financial obligations.
Many cases of cerebral palsy are caused by medical negligence in the delivery room. If your child’s cerebral palsy is such a case, we are here to help. We offer no-obligation case evaluations at no up-front cost, so call us today to learn more about your rights and to initiate the claims process for the damages you deserve. Call now at (800) 222-9529.