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.
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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.
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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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You May Have a Valid Medical Malpractice Case Based on Your Child’s Diagnosis
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.
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Get a Free Case Review From a Birth Injury Attorney Near You
Most medical malpractice attorneys will evaluate a cerebral palsy birth injury case for free. If your child has cerebral palsy, with or without hearing impairments, you may be eligible to take legal action.
For your free case review, call (800) 222-9529 now to speak to a member of the Birth Injury Lawyers Group.