Symptoms of cerebral palsy can appear quickly after birth or take years to manifest. Generally, symptoms are more apparent in children who are more severely affected. In most cases, parents or doctors recognize signs and symptoms, and the child gets a diagnosis before age two.
Most children with cerebral palsy exhibit symptoms as toddlers and fail to meet important motor milestones during this period. These symptoms cause their doctor to refer them for testing, and they receive their diagnosis.
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 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.
Some Common Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
It is important to understand that the signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy can vary greatly. There are four types of cerebral palsy, and all affect patients differently. In addition, each child has their own symptoms that impact their motor skills and coordination. These symptoms could include:
- Muscle tone that is too stiff or too loose
- Spasticity, including stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes
- Rigidity, including still muscles without exaggerated reflexes
- Ataxia, including issues with balance and muscle coordination
- Tremors, tics, and other involuntary movements
- Characteristic slow, writhing movements
- Significant delays in reaching motor-related developmental milestones, such as sitting up, pulling up, crawling, and walking
- Using primarily one side of the body
- Unusual gait
- Toe walking
- Problems with sucking, drooling, eating, or swallowing
- Delays in speech
- Difficulty with fine motor skills
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms Affect All Children Differently
Cerebral palsy can affect movement in the whole body, one side of the body, just the legs, or only one limb. Some children have intellectual disabilities, while others have above average intelligence. Some have several co-occurring conditions, while others have none. Cerebral palsy is not progressive, so your child should not suffer additional impairments unless complications occur.
Seizures are often the only sign of brain injury in newborns, and epilepsy is common in children with cerebral palsy. In addition, there are other neurological issues sometimes associated with cerebral palsy. Depending on the areas of your child’s brain that suffered an injury, this could include:
- Loss of vision
- Loss of hearing
- Intellectual disabilities
- Tactile and sensory concerns
- Issues getting adequate nutrition
- Oral diseases and complications
- Urinary incontinence
Some complications that are common in children with cerebral palsy can cause impairment and additional issues if not treated quickly and aggressively. This may include:
- Muscle tightening and shortening, known as contracture
- Joint deformities or dislocations
- Malnutrition related to difficulty eating or swallowing
- Depression and other mental health concerns
- Breathing disorders, heart disease, or lung disease
- Degenerative osteoarthritis
- Low bone density, known as osteopenia
With medication, therapy, and other efforts, families of children with cerebral palsy may be able to prevent, manage, or halt many of these complications. It may be possible to manage seizures, for example, or prevent contractures that lead to additional problems with mobility, as well as additional pain.
This is why getting a diagnosis and the proper treatment is so important. Recognizing the signs and symptoms is often the first step in this process. After a diagnosis, a cerebral palsy lawyer can direct you to resources that can help you get your child the early interventions they need.
For a free legal consultation, call 1-800-222-9529
Cerebral palsy early assessments & screenings are an important step in the process to get a diagnosis. Getting a cerebral palsy diagnosis as early as possible allows the child to qualify for early intervention programs and begin therapy to address muscle strength, motor control, developmental concerns, speech and language, and other problems.
Pediatricians often discover the first signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy during an assessment of the baby’s motor milestones. These assessments generally occur during each office visit and include both a check of the child’s age-appropriate motor development and asking parents questions about the child’s activities. Because doctors see infants frequently, they can monitor the child’s progress and take action if they see a significant delay.
Parents Play an Important Role in Cerebral Palsy Early Assessments & Screenings
Cerebral palsy affects every child differently, and there is a wide range of signs and symptoms of CP that could indicate this or another birth injury. For that reason, doctors keep a close eye on a baby’s development. The first signs of cerebral palsy can happen when the baby is less than a year old and misses reaching certain developmental milestones related to motor and movement.
While there are many reasons a child might have a delay reaching a milestone, missing several could indicate a problem. Some of the signs your child’s doctor may ask you about or evaluate during an appointment may include:
In Babies Less Than Six Months Old
- Struggling with head control beyond the age when most babies do
- Feeling too stiff or floppy when held
- Overextending the back and neck when held
- Legs that stiffen and cross at the knees when you pick them up
In Babies Over Six Months Old
- Cannot roll over from back to stomach or stomach to back
- Cannot clap or bring hands together
- Struggles to put hands in mouth
- Uses only one hand and keeps the other in a fist
In Babies Over Ten Months Old
- Does not crawl
- Crawls using only one hand and one leg, dragging the other
- Scoots sitting up or on knees instead of crawling
Some of these your doctor can test for in the office. Others, however, will come in the form of questions your doctor will ask about your child’s development. If you have concerns about your child, take notes or video of the behavior to share with the doctor. Having a video of an unusual crawl or hand position, for example, can help the doctor understand your concern better.
Screenings and Evaluations to Confirm a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis
If your doctor has a reason to believe your child may have cerebral palsy based on their early assessments, they will likely conduct a developmental screening or refer them to a specialist for screening. This screening for cerebral palsy will help them learn about any specific developmental delays your child may have. They screen for issues with motor control or purposeful movement, for example.
If this screening confirms the doctor’s suspicions, they will most likely refer your child for medical evaluations of their developmental delays and impairments. These medical evaluations may include:
- Medical imaging to document brain injury
- Tests to better understand their current status and level of development
- Tests to rule out other conditions
- Vision and hearing screenings
- Test for commonly co-occurring conditions
It is during these developmental, medical evaluations that the doctor will officially diagnose your child and explain the specific type of cerebral palsy they have. These evaluations also play a key role in qualifying for early intervention services. Following their diagnosis, your child’s doctors will work with therapists and others to create a treatment plan that addresses your child’s specific needs.
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Developmental delays in children with cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation during or immediately after birth can occur. If your child has not met their developmental milestones or has trouble with activities such as crawling, walking, sitting up, or eating by themselves, speak to your pediatrician right away. These developmental delays may be the result of cerebral palsy.
If your child was injured during birth, call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-800-222-9529 for a no-cost consultation. We can connect you with a birth injury lawyer in your state who can advise you on the options that may be available to you.
Diagnosing Your Child with Developmental Delays
Each child develops the skills they need for the activities of daily living at different times, but children with cerebral palsy may lag significantly behind their peers. Developmental delays in children with cerebral palsy may cause them to fail to meet their milestones at the age-appropriate time.
Cerebral palsy primarily affects muscle movement. Children from two to four months old with cerebral palsy may suffer from physical delays attempting to perform the following:
- Holding up their head;
- Pushing up when lying on their stomach;
- Lifting their head without support;
- Rolling over unassisted;
- Holding a toy; and,
- Touching their mouth with their hand.
A six-month-old baby should typically be able to roll over and remain in a sitting position without assistance. By nine months, the baby should generally be able to stand while holding onto something and be able to crawl. By the time they are one year old, the child should be able to pull themselves up and stand and walk with support. By 18 months, most children are walking unassisted, using utensils to eat, and using a cup to drink.
By two months, babies should be able to react to faces and follow movements with their eyes. By four months, they should be able to respond to affection and recognize faces they know. At 18 months, most children will know the name of some items and follow verbal commands.
A two-month-old child should be able to smile. By four months, they should generally be able to play with people. A baby that is six months old should recognize familiar people, and by nine months, they will typically know what their favorite toys are. One-year-olds can get upset if a parent is not around and will often try to get attention. By 18 months, children usually begin throwing tantrums, showing affection, and playing pretend with their toys.
Children who have cerebral palsy can experience delays in communication and language. Facial muscle impairment may make it difficult for a child to speak and causes problems with vision and hearing.
By two months, a child can usually gurgle and make sounds and, by six months, they should respond to their name. By nine months, they should understand the words “yes” and “no” and make sounds that imitate words such as “mama” and “dada.” By a year, babies are imitating words that they hear. By 18 months, children can usually say several words.
If your child has missed many of the above milestones or experienced them at a consistently delayed rate, these may be signs that they are suffering from cerebral palsy.
Reacting to the Signs of Cerebral Palsy
The earlier cerebral palsy is diagnosed, the faster therapy and treatment can begin. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children get screened for developmental delays at nine months, 18 months, and 24 to 30 months. If you suspect that your child has cerebral palsy, look for a pediatrician who has experience diagnosing cerebral palsy and other similar disorders and knows specialists in other fields that may be helpful during diagnosis and treatment.
A condition is known as “failure to thrive” is not uncommon among children with cerebral palsy and may be diagnosed when the child does not meet age and weight requirements for their age.
Although some cases of cerebral palsy are due to conditions beyond anyone’s control, many are the result of malpractice, misdiagnosis, or negligence on the part of a medical professional. Children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy may need assistance throughout their lifetime, including crutches, wheelchairs, and other assistive devices, medication, physical therapy, speech therapy, and special education. If your child’s developmental delays are the result of medical malpractice, you should not be responsible for shouldering these costs on your own.
What Are Cerebral Palsy Hearing Impairments?
Hearing impairments are relatively common in children with cerebral palsy. They may affect the child’s ability to speak and make therapy and treatment more difficult. Without treatment, such as hearing aids or cochlear implants, cerebral palsy hearing impairments can make attending a school with their peers and learning in a general education classroom difficult.
All children with a cerebral palsy diagnosis should undergo a hearing assessment to rule out any conductive or sensorineural hearing loss.
More Than One-Third of Children With Cerebral Palsy Have Some Degree of Hearing Loss
Many children with cerebral palsy also suffer a hearing impairment. One study of hearing loss in cerebral palsy children looked at the medical records of more than 900 patients. Of these children, 39% suffered some type of significant hearing loss:
- Almost half suffered a conductive hearing impairment
- Four percent had a sensorineural impairment
- A quarter had a combination of both causes of hearing loss
- There was no specified mechanism of hearing loss in the remaining 23%
It is difficult to assess many children with cerebral palsy for hearing deficits because of their difficulty with motor control and other related movement problems. However, it is imperative that children undergo an audiological assessment for cerebral palsy hearing impairments early. Without an early assessment and diagnosis, they may face an uphill battle when it comes to speaking and communicating. Speech is already a common problem for children with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy hearing impairments seem to be more common in children who also have a visual impairment related to their condition. The average age of diagnosis of hearing impairment in a child with cerebral palsy is just before their second birthday. This early diagnosis allows for early intervention program placement, speech therapy, and early treatment with hearing aids or cochlear implants, if appropriate.
Speech Concerns in Children With CP-Related Hearing Impairments
Children with cerebral palsy often require speech therapy, and many still never gain the ability to speak verbally. The brain injury that causes cerebral palsy can affect the muscles necessary for swallowing, speaking, and even eating. Depending on how the condition affects the child’s mouth and throat, their speech may be:
- Slow and slurred
- Hyponasal, like they have a stopped-up nose
- Absent entirely
Making sure the child does not have profound hearing loss and requires treatment is a key part of helping them overcome their speech challenges. If the child cannot speak because of their condition, they may also need to use a tablet-based or computer-based voice synthesizing device to communicate. Still, this type of device only works if the child can hear, understand, and respond to the speech of others.
Treating hearing impairments or integrating the child into an environment designed for the hearing impaired may help them excel in academics, participate in conversations, be a part of a social peer group, and increase their self-esteem.
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What Are Cerebral Palsy Vision Impairments?
Cerebral palsy vision impairments include ocular disorders, oculomotor abnormalities, and visuoperceptual difficulties. According to a study published in BMC Ophthalmology, between 50 and 90 percent of children with cerebral palsy also have some type of visual impairment or abnormality. The type and severity of the problem are directly related to the area of the brain where injuries occurred and the extent of the damage to that area of the brain. Doctors can address many of these vision impairments through glasses, surgery, or other treatments.
Babies born with cerebral palsy may be more likely to suffer vision impairments because many of the causes of cerebral palsy can also cause problems with vision. This includes premature birth, hypoxic birth injuries, fetal stroke, certain developmental problems during gestation, infections in the mother or baby, and traumatic brain injuries.
Common Vision Impairments in Children with Cerebral Palsy
Visual differences and vision loss can occur with any type of cerebral palsy and vary widely in severity. Some types of vision impairments that occur in individuals with cerebral palsy include:
Ocular disorders that are commonly seen in children with cerebral palsy include:
- Refractive errors including myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness)
- Some types of minor ocular abnormalities
Some individuals with cerebral palsy may have significant issues controlling eye movement or focusing because of unwanted eye movements. In the past, testing may have determined these children had profound vision impairments and were essentially “blind” when, in fact, there was a motor control problem with their eyes instead of a problem with the eye itself.
In some cases, it is not the eye causing problems but a problem related to how the brain receives and translates visual images. This may include:
- Problems with visual object recognition
- Issues with visuospatial skills
- Weak visual memory
Cortical visual impairment is a common cause of vision issues in children with cerebral palsy and other types of perinatal brain injuries. This condition causes a number of problems with vision because of the areas of the brain affected. There is no problem with the eyes themselves, although other conditions can co-occur.
Assessing and Addressing Vision Impairments in Children With Cerebral Palsy
It is imperative that children with cerebral palsy and other motor disorders receive an early assessment of their vision. This should include testing to understand any type of vision impairment, including ocular, oculomotor, and visuoperceptual impairments. A thorough assessment and early diagnosis that identifies all causes of vision problems is necessary to plan for appropriate treatment.
A child’s sight is important when helping them build muscle strength and motor skills, and helping them to learn to communicate if speech is not possible. Children who already require occupational therapy to master self-care skills may struggle even more if they have unaddressed vision impairments.
In many cases, there are treatments available to address vision impairments. This may include surgery, glasses, other medical treatments to address physical issues and early intervention and therapy to improve cerebral visual impairments.
Infant Difficulty Sucking, Eating, Or Swallowing Lawyer
It is not uncommon for babies to experience problems with eating or with food, including difficulties with sucking, eating, or swallowing. A study published in Paediatrics &Child Health reports that 35 percent of infants suffer from some type of feeding problem—occurring in 25 percent of normally developing children and in 35 percent of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.
SYMPTOMS AND EFFECTS
Feeding and swallowing disorders may manifest with the following symptoms
- Fussing or crying during feeding
- Difficulty chewing
- Breastfeeding problems
- Eating takes a long time
- Stiffening or arching of back when feeding
- Falling asleep during feeding
- Refusing food or drink
- Gagging or coughing during feeding
- Excessive drooling
- Hoarse or breathy voice while feeding or after
- Throws up or spits up frequently
- Does not gain weight
If left unaddressed, feeding problems can lead to nutritional, developmental, and psychological problems, making early detection and treatment is important.
Infant feeding problems can arise from several medical issues, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that cause neurological disorders, like cerebral palsy.
WHEN TBIS RESULT FROM THE DELIVERY PROCESS
Sometimes, TBIs occur during the delivery process. Such birth injuries sometimes just happen, and there was simply no way to avoid them. However, most birth injuries are preventable. For example, TBIs that cause intracranial hemorrhages and can eventually lead to cerebral palsy are well within the preventive control of a competent physician and medical team.
When a baby suffers from TBI as a birth injury—such as what results from doctors applying excessive force when using forceps or using a vacuum extraction tool improperly—parents are well within their rights to pursue compensation via a medical malpractice lawsuit. A birth injury lawyer for infants with difficulty sucking, eating, or swallowing who has handled this type of case can prove beneficial in this effort.
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You May Be Eligible to File a Birth Injury Case on Behalf of Your Child
A cerebral palsy diagnosis, with or without vision impairments, could support a medical malpractice case in some instances. An attorney who regularly handles birth injury cases can review your case for free and help you understand if you should take legal action.
You may have a case against your child’s doctor, the hospital, or another medical care provider if:
- They failed to prevent a preventable birth injury.
- Your child did not get a timely and accurate diagnosis.
- They failed to assess your child’s vision.
- They failed to prescribe an effective treatment for your child’s vision impairment.
- They otherwise committed medical negligence.
An attorney near you can look into what happened to your child and help you build a case against the medical care providers involved. Every state has its own time limits for how long you can wait to take legal action, so you should contact a birth injury attorney in your state soon.
What Are Cerebral Palsy Speech Impairments?
Cerebral palsy can affect the muscles and motor function of the arms and legs, but it can also affect the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and other related body parts. This can make it especially difficult to speak, swallow, eat, and even breathe.
Cerebral palsy speech impairments are most common in children with spastic types of cerebral palsy. This includes the most common types of this condition. Between seven and eight out of every ten children with cerebral palsy have a spastic type of the condition.
Children With Cerebral Palsy Can Have a Number of Different Speech Issues
Babies, toddlers, and children who have cerebral palsy can display a wide variety of issues related to speech and muscle control of the mouth, tongue, and throat. Before treatment, these issues can significantly limit communication as well as causing problems with swallowing and feeding. There may be additional concerns about comprehension that make it difficult to communicate verbally.
Some common speech and language issues in children with cerebral palsy include:
- The absence of verbal speech (aphasia)
- Problems pronouncing words because of issues with motor control (dyspraxia)
- Problems related to speech patterns and timing (dysprosody)
- Issues related to increased or unpredictable muscle tone in the face and mouth (dysarthria)
- Difficulty swallowing and related concerns (dysphagia)
- Articulation disorders, making it difficult to understand their speech
- Resonance disorders stemming from cerebral palsy affecting the vocal tract
- Problems comprehending language, usually linked to their brain injury or intellectual disability
Dysphagia is one of the most common causes of speech problems in children with cerebral palsy, but it can also affect babies and toddlers because of their inability to eat normally or swallow. This can cause numerous complications, including:
- Choking while eating or drinking
- Pulmonary aspiration and pneumonia
- Breathing abnormalities
When a newborn or baby presents with what appears to be a difficulty swallowing, this could be a sign they have cerebral palsy or another birth injury. They require a swallow study and follow-up care to ensure they can feed and get adequate nutrition. Poor nutrition can lead to problems with growth and an increased risk of infection, among other concerns.
Speech Therapy Can Help Children With Speech Impairments
Speech therapy is often a part of the multi-focal treatment plan designed for a child with cerebral palsy. A speech pathologist can design therapy exercises and activities that will assess and treat the child’s speech, language, and swallowing problems. Depending on the child’s needs, this may address specific concerns including:
- Problems swallowing
- Chewing and eating problems
- Excessive drooling
- Muscle coordination and strength necessary for speech
- Word formation and pronunciation
- Speaking as clearly as possible
- Language and vocabulary development
- Engaging in conversations
In some cases, children with cerebral palsy speech impairments will likely remain non-verbal. Speech therapy can help these children express themselves in other ways. This greatly improves the quality of life for these children. Some of the tools and technology that may be available to these children and their speech therapists include:
- Sign language and other gestures
- Picture boards and related concepts
- Computer- or tablet-based aids
- Voice synthesizers
Speech therapy will not only teach these children to use these tools or devices, but it will also encourage interaction with others and help the child develop social skills and self-esteem. It can lay an important foundation for making the assessment of other impairments easier, as well. For example, determining problems with vision is much easier with children who can communicate.
How common are speech disabilities among people with Cerebral Palsy?
Speech disabilities are very common with certain types of cerebral palsy. In addition to speech impairments, many children with cerebral palsy may also have cognitive disabilities that affect their ability to communicate. Speech therapy often plays a central role in the treatment plan of these children.
How much cerebral palsy and related conditions affect speech varies widely. In some cases, a child may struggle to select the correct word or use the wrong word. In other cases, speech is difficult or impossible to understand, or the child cannot express himself at all verbally.
More Than Half of All Children with Cerebral Palsy May Have Difficulties with Verbal Communication
According to a 2013 study performed in Sweden, more than half of the children with cerebral palsy in the country have difficulties with verbal communication and may require speech therapy. According to the study:
- 21 percent had some type of speech disorder
- 32 percent were nonverbal
- Speech disorders “were present in all types of [cerebral palsy].”
This study linked speech ability and the level of communication possible to several factors that include:
- The type of cerebral palsy
- The child’s overall gross motor function
- The level, if any, of cognitive impairment
- Where in the brain the damage occurred that caused cerebral palsy and other symptoms
Early Intervention and Speech Therapy Can Make a Difference
Children acquire lifelong speech and language skills during the first three years of their life because this is the primary time for brain development and development of the language centers of the brain. For this reason, early intervention is key in improving speech or providing other communication methods for a child with cerebral palsy.
Treatment of speech disabilities centers around speech therapy, where children can learn to:
- Communicate more clearly
- Use alternative communication methods
- Work on chewing and swallowing, when necessary
Depending on the child’s impairments and how cerebral palsy affects the muscle control of the mouth, some children may remain nonverbal. Other assistive devices may make it possible for these children to communicate. This includes:
- Tablets and computers
- Augmentative and alternative communication devices (AAC)
- Sign language or a series of signs developed by the therapy team or family based on the child’s abilities
- Communication boards
- Speech generating devices
- Specialized software and devices
With early intervention and a care team that includes a speech therapist, many children with cerebral palsy and speech disabilities learn to communicate with those around them.
You May Be Able to Pursue Compensation to Cover Your Child’s Speech Impairment
In some cases, cerebral palsy occurs as a result of a preventable birth injury. If your doctor or other medical care providers failed to prevent your child’s brain injury, or if they failed to diagnose your child as quickly as they should have, you may be eligible to pursue compensation to cover your child’s speech therapy, other medical care needs, ongoing care costs, pain and suffering, and more.
To learn if you have a viable cerebral palsy birth injury case, you need to talk to a medical malpractice attorney in your state. They will review your case for free, and explain your options and the deadline to take legal action in your state. If you have a valid case, they can build a strong argument on your child’s behalf and represent your family throughout the legal process.
Intellectual Disabilities From Cerebral Palsy
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit on your own for your child’s intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy can be an involved process. A successful lawsuit means proving your physician or another member of your health care team may have been negligent or may have failed to meet the standard of care outlined by your state.
If you believe either of these circumstances contributed to your baby’s condition, an attorney can help you. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-800-222-9529. An attorney can help you find evidence of medical error and determine where to assign liability.
Speak with an attorney about your baby’s birth injury and start putting together a case for the financial recovery you are due. You might be entitled to a substantial monetary award that can help you cover the cost of the ongoing medical care your child needs and deserves.
Intellectual Disabilities from Cerebral Palsy Types
Intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy are characterized by lower than average intellectual function and learning disabilities. A child diagnosed as having intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy may experience decreased cognitive function and adaptive behavior that limits their ability to function. These intellectual disabilities are characterized into three types: mild, moderate, and severe.
Intellectual Disabilities From Cerebral Palsy Causes
Intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy share a cause with the initial diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Those causes include brain injury, damage, and brain malformation. These causes result from a lack of oxygen to the brain, fetal infection, maternal infection, and fetal stroke.
Intellectual Disabilities From Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Symptoms of intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy symptoms include:
- Delays reaching developmental milestones
- Speech delays and difficulty speaking
- Decreased fine and gross motor skills
- Difficulty with vision and hearing
- Learning disabilities
Intellectual Disabilities From Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis and Treatment
Intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy can be diagnosed through a battery of cognitive tests and visual diagnoses. The diagnostic tools will vary according to the child’s type of cerebral palsy.
Because the symptoms can vary so widely in each child, the treatments vary widely as well. Almost all forms of cerebral palsy share several similar treatments like physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Having intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy might also require special education and individual assistance in coping with social situations.
Intellectual Disabilities from Cerebral Palsy Frequently Asked Questions
Intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy can take a variety of forms. These questions and answers can help you understand your baby’s condition and their expectations for the future.
How Do I Know If My Baby Has Intellectual Disabilities From Cerebral Palsy?
You may recognize signs and symptoms in your baby that lead you to suspect intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy. Some of those symptoms include developmental delays and failure to reach age-appropriate developmental milestones. You might also notice a lack of gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and difficulty making eye contact.
Can Intellectual Disabilities From Cerebral Palsy Be Fatal?
Intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy will make an impact on any child diagnosed with the condition. These limitations in and of themselves are not fatal. In fact, a baby diagnosed with intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy can expect a lifespan of 30 to 70 years, depending on the severity of their form of cerebral palsy.
Who Is Liable For Intellectual Disabilities From Cerebral Palsy?
It can be difficult to know who to hold accountable for your child’s birth injury that resulted in intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy. You could have a claim against the physician or OBGYN you saw throughout your pregnancy and delivery. An attorney can help you assign liability to the right people and pursue the appropriate legal action.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Intellectual Disabilities From Cerebral Palsy?
Each state places a time limit on when a plaintiff can file a birth injury lawsuit for intellectual disabilities from cerebral palsy. If you believe you have a claim and want to file a lawsuit, you must meet the time limits of your state. Two important timelines are the statute of limitations and the statute of repose. Failure to meet these deadlines can have a major impact on your claim.
Your state might also allow your claim to comply with the tolling for minors legal code. Tolling for minors means the clock on the original statute of limitations does not start counting down until your child reaches their eighteenth birthday.
Failure to comply with your state’s time frame could put your claim at risk. Call 1-800-222-9529 to speak with a lawyer at the Birth Injury Lawyers Group. Your attorney will make sure you meet all the time frames and legal compliances of your state.
Intellectual Disabilities from Cerebral Palsy Terms
- What Are Gross Motor Skills?
Gross motor skills define a child’s ability to master control over their large muscle groups. Gross motor skills include the ability to crawl, walk, run, or throw a ball.
- What Are Fine Motor Skills?
Fine motor skills define a child’s ability to make small movements. They involve the level of dexterity required to grasp small objects, hold a pencil and write, or stack a series of blocks.
- What Are Developmental Milestones?
Developmental milestones are predefined milestones in a child’s growth and development. These markers outline what an average child can expect to be capable of at certain ages.
What Kind of Mobility Problems to Children with Cerebral Palsy Face?
Mobility problems are common in children with cerebral palsy but can range widely in nature and severity. Cerebral palsy affects muscle control, strength, and movement, but affects every person differently. This means two children with the same diagnosis can be affected in dramatically different ways. One of the mobility problems children with a cerebral palsy face could include a struggle with balance or gait. However, one child may be able to walk unsupported while another may not be able to walk at all.
In addition, cerebral palsy occurs in many forms, and each affects children in different ways. Some may have uncontrolled movements that make walking dangerous, while others have shaky tremors or stiff muscles that make it hard to walk unsupported.
Approximately Half of Children With CP Can Walk Independently
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 50 and 60 percent of children with cerebral palsy can walk on their own. About 10 percent walk with a hand-held mobility device.
Mobility impairments are likely in children with certain symptoms and complications. These can include:
- Spastic quadriplegia, meaning spastic cerebral palsy affects all four limbs
- Intellectual disability
- Epileptic seizures
- Vision impairments
Complications and co-occurring conditions can also play a role in limiting mobility in children with cerebral palsy. Hip and spine abnormalities are common, including scoliosis and hip displacement. This can make sitting, standing, and walking both painful and difficult.
In many cases, treatment can help these children gain some mobility. This may be because tremors or seizures are under control or because those with vision impairments gain confidence. Even limited mobility can help as children grow because the ability to stand and transfer to a wheelchair on their own eliminates the need for a parent to lift an older child, teenager, or adult, or the expense of a mechanical lift.
Treatment and Mobility Help for Children With Cerebral Palsy
Many children benefit from increased mobility thanks to a combination of treatment for cerebral palsy and the use of mobility aids. Medications, physical therapy, and occupational therapy can help keep the muscles limber and give the child more control.
However, it is important to note that many children who can walk in a clinical setting, such as physical therapy, do not walk at home or school.
In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, there were 42.85 percent of children who walked without support and 26.98 percent who walked with support in a clinical setting. Only 21.87 percent of them were able to walk with or without support in their community.
Some factors that may impair a child’s mobility at home or school include:
- Willingness of parents and teachers to encourage walking
- A schedule that may not allow for slow and labored walking
- Availability of the right mobility aids to best support the child’s current abilities
- A fear of falling
When it comes to mobility aids, there are a number on the market that your child’s doctor or therapist can prescribe. There is no one-size-fits-all answer for the best walker, wheelchair, or seat. Instead, each needs to be specially fitted to the patient to ensure it offers the necessary support.
Some common mobility aids used by children with cerebral palsy include:
- Posterior walkers
- Gait trainers
- Manual and motorized wheelchairs
Often, doctors prescribe orthotics and other braces to offer additional support, and children use these in conjunction with mobility aids.
Cerebral Palsy Mobility Lawsuits
When it comes to mobility problems children with cerebral palsy face, the cost of medication, therapy, and mobility aids as they advance and age can quickly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In many cases, cerebral palsy is preventable and occurs because of a medical error or medical negligence. You may be able to file a birth injury lawsuit and pursue damages that include the cost of your child’s treatment, ongoing care costs, and pain and suffering damages. You do not need to handle this process alone.
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group is here to help your family. Call 1-800-222-9529 today to get connected with a lawyer in your state who can review your case for free.
Behavioral Disabilities in Children with Cerebral Palsy
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.
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.
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.
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
What Are Cerebral Palsy Nutritional Issues?
Babies, children, and others with cerebral palsy may suffer from nutritional issues related to their condition. Some types of cerebral palsy can affect the ability to nurse, swallow, chew, eat, and drink.
Children with cerebral palsy nutritional issues should work closely with a multidisciplinary team that includes their doctors, a dietitian, a speech therapist, and other therapy providers. This team should work together to ensure the patient receives the nutrition they need to grow and develop.
Common Issues Causing Nutritional Concerns in Individuals With Cerebral Palsy
Many individuals with cerebral palsy struggle with oropharyngeal issues that affect their ability to suck (important for nursing infants), manipulate food with the tongue, chew, and swallow. Some textures may cause them more problems than others, depending on their individual symptoms. This may mean solid foods or thin liquids are more likely to cause a problem for some children.
The physical and motor issues affecting children with cerebral palsy may include:
- Inability to close lips or hold them closed
- Weak tongue or poor motor control of the tongue
- Tongue thrust
- Exaggerated bite reflex
- Hypersensitivity to certain textures of food or drink
- Delayed swallow initiation and other swallowing concerns
- Reduced pharyngeal motility
Difficulty swallowing can be so severe in some individuals that it is dangerous for them to try to eat or drink by mouth because it can cause choking or aspiration. Aspiration is a dangerous condition when food or drink enters the lungs and can lead to pneumonia.
If doctors believe this is true for your infant or child, they should refer them for a swallow study. This will help both you and your child’s doctor better understand the unique needs of your child and how to address them.
Cerebral Palsy Can Cause Undernutrition and Malnutrition
Babies and children who experience cerebral palsy nutritional issues can suffer from problems with growth, reduced cerebral functioning, immune system weakening, and other serious health concerns. Cerebral palsy not only affects oropharyngeal functioning, but the condition and drugs to treat it can also cause problems related to:
- Having to rely on the help of others to eat
- Reliance on others to prove an adequate and healthy diet
- Increased nutritional needs
These issues can cause additional problems in meeting the nutritional needs of the child.
Your Child’s Medical Care Team Should Assess and Address Their Nutritional Needs
Your child’s care team should assess their growth and ensure they are getting adequate nutrition regularly as a part of monitoring their cerebral palsy. This may be as frequent as every four to 12 weeks for infants. Generally, older children require less frequent monitoring, but it depends on their nutritional issues and related concerns.
As a part of their assessment of your child, doctors or therapists should identify the specific concerns that your child faces and the cause of those issues, e.g., they choke on thin liquids or struggle to feed themselves with a traditional fork.
Based on these assessments, you can work with the doctors and therapists to put a plan in place to address these needs. Many nutritional issues are easily addressed by:
- Modifying the consistency of foods and drinks
- Offering specially-designed utensils that allow the child to better feed themselves
- Only feeding the child in a supportive seat
Children who need extra calories or have serious difficulties eating and swallowing may require additional help. This could include oral nutritional supplements, often high-calorie shakes with vitamins, or a feeding tube (enteral nutrition). There are several types of enteral nutrition available, including nasogastric, gastrostomy, and post-pyloric feeding.
Muscle-Related Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Preparing a medical malpractice or birth injury lawsuit due to the muscle-related symptoms of cerebral palsy can be a major undertaking. On your own, getting the evidence and expert reviews you need to prove your physician or OBGYN made a medical error can be daunting. It can be equally challenging to prove they failed to meet the accepted standard of care you were entitled to receive.
Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-800-222-9529 today. A lawyer can be invaluable in helping you prove negligence, assign liability, and understand the full scope of the recoverable damages you could receive. A lawyer can also help you provide insurance companies and courts with proof of economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
When you speak to an attorney, they can help you understand and comply with the statute of limitations and other important legal deadlines for filing a claim in your state. Do not hesitate to get the help you need to file a birth injury lawsuit that will help ensure your child can receive the medical treatment they need and deserve.
Because it can be caused by different brain and cognitive disorders and brain injuries, cerebral palsy can have a wide range of muscle-related symptoms. Some of the muscle-related symptoms of cerebral palsy are shaky or jerky body movements, lack of muscle coordination, uncontrolled movements, favoring one side of the body, and scoliosis.
Muscle-Related Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy Causes
The muscle-related symptoms of cerebral palsy can have a variety of different origins. Although doctors define many different types of cerebral palsy, most are caused by a brain injury, an injury during birth, or brain malformation. These injuries can occur:
- Following traumatic head injuries
- Following fetal and maternal infections
- During prolonged labor and delivery
- With the use of forceps or vacuum extractors
- During excessive pushing during labor and delivery
Muscle-Related Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Muscle-related symptoms of cerebral palsy vary greatly from child to child and according to cerebral palsy type. Muscle movements and their related cerebral palsy symptoms might include:
- Stiff muscles
- Floppy muscles
- A rag doll like appearance
- Exaggerated muscle reflexes
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Involuntary muscle movements
- Difficulty crawling or walking
- Difficulty swallowing, sucking, or eating
- Delayed fine motor skills
Muscle-Related Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis and Treatment
The muscle-related symptoms of cerebral palsy can be diagnosed with brain scans and imaging tests like MRI, CT scan, and cranial ultrasound. Additionally, an EEG and laboratory testing will determine visual acuity and potential developmental delays.
Treatments often include long-term care, specialized treatment plans, and physical and occupational therapy. Your child might also require orthopedic surgeries, speech therapy, and developmental therapy.
Muscle-Related Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy Frequently Asked Questions
These answers provide insight into many of the questions you might have regarding a recent diagnosis of the muscle-related symptoms of cerebral palsy.
How Do I Know If My Baby Has Muscle-Related Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?
You might notice floppy muscles, excessive drooling, difficulty eating, and the sudden onset of seizures in your baby. You might also notice tremors, posturing, or lack of muscle coordination. If you notice these symptoms, contact your doctor or pediatrician immediately for the comprehensive exam and diagnosis your baby needs.
Can Muscle-Related Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy Be Fatal?
The right combination of medications, surgeries, and therapies can greatly benefit many children afflicted with the muscle-related symptoms of cerebral palsy. These treatments can provide relief from seizures and assist your child in walking and controlling movements. The lifespan of children who experience the muscle-related symptoms of cerebral palsy varies according to the severity of their symptoms.
Who Is Liable For Muscle-Related Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?
Early diagnosis of the Muscle-related symptoms of cerebral palsy are vital to ensuring the best treatments and future for your child. Your doctor should perform specific tests to diagnose and treat your child’s condition. An attorney can help you assign liability to the doctor, nurse, midwife, or OBGYN who treated you during your pregnancy and delivery.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Muscle-Related Symptoms Of Cerebral Palsy?
Filing a lawsuit for a birth injury that led to your child being diagnosed with muscle-related symptoms of cerebral palsy has certain time limits. Do you believe your child’s diagnosis entitles you to file a medical malpractice lawsuit? Time is of the essence because your state has established a time frame for your claim.
That time frame is called a statute of limitations. It works along with the statute of repose to determine your filing timeline. These two statutes also work with the tolling for minors code that effectively brings the legal clock to a standstill in many instances. This can create complicated time constraints.
An attorney can help you successfully navigate these time restrictions. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-800-222-9529. You can speak to an attorney who will help you understand the time restraints of filing your lawsuit and meeting the guidelines of your state.
Muscle-Related Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy Glossary Terms
- What Is In Utero?
In utero means in the womb and is used to refer to an unborn child from the beginning of gestation until birth.
- What Is Brain Malformation?
A brain malformation is an abnormality that happens in utero during fetal development.
- What Is An EEG?
An EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic test that measures the electrical activity of your child’s brain. It is often used to diagnose, measure, monitor, and treat seizure disorders.
Do Children with Cerebral Palsy Suffer From Chronic Pain?
Some children with cerebral palsy suffer from chronic pain, and it is likely to increase as they get older. According to the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, as many as 75 percent of adults with cerebral palsy report having chronic pain.
Some types of cerebral palsy are more likely to cause chronic pain than others. Types that include spasticity, the most common forms of the condition, often lead to pain related to contractures. Cerebral palsy types that feature dystonia may also lead to chronic pain.
Chronic Pain Can Cause a Significant Decrease in Quality of Life
Without a doubt, some children with cerebral palsy suffer from chronic pain and their condition raises the risk of experiencing that pain, compared to their peers who do not have a chronic medical concern. How many of them face chronic pain in childhood is not certain, but studies seem to indicate the numbers may be high.
In one 2014 study published in BMC Pediatrics, physical therapists who worked with children living with cerebral palsy reported 51 percent of their patients suffered frequent pain. This pain did not significantly affect their ability to control muscles or impair physical movement, but it did affect their psychological well-being and quality of life.
Pain in Those With Cerebral Palsy Is Often Poorly Managed
Not only is there strong evidence that “significant and persistent” pain is common in people living with cerebral palsy, but also that too little is being done to manage chronic pain in this population. If your child has cerebral palsy and complains of pain or seems to exhibit signs of pain, it is important to recognize that these children are at a high risk of having their pain under-managed.
Many parents may need to act as an advocate for their child, fighting for the necessary pain management options and discovering non-medical options such as heating pads or stretching that work well for your child. Other parents raising children with cerebral palsy are often good resources.
Managing chronic pain is important because living with persistent pain can lead to a wide variety of negative outcomes, ranging from disinterest in hobbies and limiting social contact to psychological distress and lower quality of life.
How Common Is Epilepsy Among People With Cerebral Palsy?
Certain types of cerebral palsy and epilepsy occur because of damage to the same or nearby areas of the brain. For this reason, the two disorders may both occur in children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It is important to note that the report frequency of epilepsy in children with cerebral palsy varies widely from study to study and between organizations, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.
In general, the prevalence of epilepsy is between 3 and 6 per 1000 children. However, it is much more common in children with cerebral palsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 41 percent of children with cerebral palsy also had epilepsy. If the child also has a learning disability related to their cerebral palsy, the percentage with epilepsy increases even further, to more than 70 percent, according to a study in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.
This last figure is especially important for both parents and medical care providers who monitor children with these coexisting conditions. This is because uncontrolled seizures can contribute to additional cognitive deficits. Many of these children may already have serious functional impairments related to their cerebral palsy and related learning disabilities.
Treating Epilepsy in Children and Adults with Cerebral Palsy
Most children and adults who have a dual diagnosis of both cerebral palsy and epilepsy had seizures within the first year of their life and received a relatively early diagnosis when compared to children with epilepsy who do not also have cerebral palsy. This allows for earlier treatment and may mean better control of the condition during key developmental stages in early childhood.
In general, the treatment of epilepsy relies on anticonvulsant medications. This is the most common type of treatment for children with epilepsy, regardless of whether they also have cerebral palsy. It may take some time to find the right medication or combination of medications to reduce the frequency of seizures and eliminate them entirely.
You May be Able to Pursue Compensation on Your Child’s Behalf
In some cases, a cerebral palsy diagnosis, or a missed diagnosis can support a medical malpractice case. Doctors have a responsibility to prevent this type of birth injury when possible. In addition, they need to recognize symptoms and diagnose children as soon as possible. A birth injury lawyer can review your case to determine if you are eligible to file a claim.
If your lawyer uncovers proof that your child’s doctor or another medical care professional or facility acted negligently and this caused your child additional pain and suffering, they can help you build a case and take action on your behalf.
There are time limits on how long you can wait to file a lawsuit in these cases, though. Your birth injury lawyer will be able to explain the statute of limitations and any laws that might toll the statute of limitations for birth injury cases in your state.
A cerebral palsy diagnosis may sometimes support a birth injury case. This claim may be possible when:
- A doctor or other medical care provider caused or failed to prevent a birth injury
- A doctor missed your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis
- A medical care provider failed to test your child’s hearing or missed a hearing impairment, and your child did not receive the care they needed quickly
To learn more, you should discuss your case with a cerebral palsy birth injury attorney who handles this type of case in your state. Every state has its own rules about proving medical malpractice cases, how long you have to file a lawsuit, if you can toll the statute of limitations because your child was an infant when they were hurt, or other facets of pursuing compensation.
A cerebral palsy medical malpractice attorney will tell you if you have grounds to take legal action. They can guide you through the claims process and even take your case to trial if necessary. They will represent your child’s best interests throughout this process.
Your Child’s CP Diagnosis May Support a Valid Birth Injury Legal Claim
If a doctor caused or failed to prevent your child’s cerebral palsy, or if they missed the diagnosis and your child suffered additional complications, you may have a valid medical malpractice case. There are also other ways that medical care providers may be liable in this type of case.
To learn more about your rights and the strength of your case, discuss your options with a cerebral palsy birth injury lawyer who handles this type of medical malpractice case.
Connect With a Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Attorney Near You
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group can introduce you to a cerebral palsy attorney today. We can connect you with a law firm that regularly handles cases like yours near you and help you schedule your free initial consultation with a member of their team.
Call (800) 222-9529 now to learn more.
Talk to a Birth Injury Lawyer About Your Child’s Cerebral Palsy
In some cases, medical negligence on the part of a doctor or another medical care provider can cause or worsen the symptoms of cerebral palsy in a child. If this happened to your infant or child, you have a right to try to hold the liable parties accountable.
The team from the Birth Injury Lawyers Group will review your case for free and may be able to help you pursue a payout on your child’s behalf. Call (800) 222-9529 today.
Compensation for Your Child’s Future
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition, but with the right interventions, children can grow up to have long, productive, and independent lives.
If your child was injured at birth as a result of medical negligence, you deserve compensation to help ensure that their needs are met. There are many potentially recoverable damages associated with cerebral palsy caused by a birth injury. Treatment, surgery, and medications to deal with the possible developmental delays in children with cerebral palsy may be necessary. You may need compensation for the time you are unable to spend at work because you are caring for your child or taking them to and from their treatments. A birth injury lawyer can help you determine what you are eligible to pursue given the details of your case.
An attorney can evaluate the circumstances surrounding the delivery and birth of your child. Medical records such as OB/GYN records, images from scans, X-rays, and ultrasounds, and other medical documents can help determine if your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by an injury at birth. Once this has been established, your lawyer will build a case and, if necessary, litigate the case in court.
The statute of limitations in a birth injury case varies from state to state, but we can connect you with a birth injury lawyer in your state who can help you.
If you think that your child may have been born with cerebral palsy due to the medical malpractice or negligence of their doctor, we can help. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at 1-800-222-9529 to get started with a free consultation.