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.
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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
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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.
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Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits
Cerebral palsy is often preventable. If your child has cerebral palsy and a medical error, traumatic birth injury, or medical negligence may be to blame, you may have grounds to pursue a medical malpractice case and hold the doctor or hospital liable. This could allow you to recover a payout that would include compensation to pay for your child’s therapy, assisted communication devices, pain and suffering, and more.
To learn more about the merits of your case, discuss your options with a birth injury attorney in your state. Call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group now at 1-800-222-9529 to reach a lawyer near you today.