Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a range of disabilities pertaining to an individual’s gross motor function. It can affect a person’s:
- Ability to sit
- Ability to walk and move
- Live independently
Based on children enrolled in Medicaid in 2005, the medical costs for children with cerebral palsy were 10 times higher than the costs for children without cerebral palsy or intellectual disabilities. The costs of children who suffered from both cerebral palsy as well as an intellectual disability were 26 times higher than for children without either. Estimates of the lifetime care costs for individuals with cerebral palsy were as high as $1 million in 2003 ($1.4 million today). Other estimates of the combined lifetime costs for all individuals with cerebral palsy born over the last two decades will total roughly $12 billion in direct and indirect costs, a huge burden on the economy and specifically on the families of the affected individuals.
If your child or a loved one suffers from cerebral palsy, we can help. Call us for a free, no-obligation consultation and evaluation of your case at (800) 222-9529. Depending on the causes of the cerebral palsy in question, you may be entitled to compensation, and as birth injury experts, based on the specifics of your case, we can conduct an investigation, collect evidence, and file a claim on your behalf to help you secure the finances and damages you deserve as a result of your child’s cerebral palsy.
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Classifying Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is classified on a scale of one to five. The higher the level, the more severe is the disability.
- Level 1: The patient can walk without any serious limitations.
- Level 2: The patient can walk long distances without serious limitations cannot run or jump and may require assistive devices such as leg or arm braces when they first begin to walk. They also may require a wheelchair to get around when they are outside their home.
- Level 3: The patient can sit with little support and stand without any support but they may require assistive devices such as a walker or a cane while walking indoors and a wheelchair to get around while outside the home.
- Level 4: The patient can walk using an assistive device but they require support when sitting.
- Level 5: The patient requires support to maintain the position of their head and neck. They also require support to sit and stand and may or may not be able to control a motorized wheelchair.
To determine the severity of your child’s cerebral palsy, your doctor may refer you to a specialist or recommend tests to properly diagnose the illness.
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Causes of Cerebral Palsy
The leading causes of cerebral palsy include all of the following:
- Brain damage sustained before, during, or soon after birth
- Loss of oxygen or blood supply during birth
- Infections in the mother or baby
- Medical negligence that results in brain damage, such as the incorrect use of delivery equipment or diagnostic or administrative errors
Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
Diagnosing cerebral palsy involves taking a complete medical history, performing a physical exam, and evaluating the patient’s symptoms. It may also involve:
- Conducting an electroencephalogram (EEG) test to evaluate the brain’s electrical activity, often used 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 infection or 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 suffering from cerebral palsy can exhibit a wide range of additional symptoms, including all of the following:
- Communication difficulties
- Speech and language disorders
- Spinal deformities
- Muscle locking
- Poor bone density leading to easy brakes and frequent fractures
- Dental issues
Treating Cerebral Palsy
Patients suffering from cerebral palsy, both children as well as adults, often require long-term treatment and medical care, and they may need all of the following:
- Medications to reduce muscle tightness, improve functional abilities, treat pain, and manage other complications.
- Therapy, such as physical therapy to improve strength and flexibility, as well as balance and mobility.
- Speech and language therapy may be required to help your child speak clearly or communicate using sign language. They may also be taught how to use communication devices such as a computer with a voice synthesizer.
- Surgery to realign bones or joints, cut the nerves to dysfunctional muscles or spastic muscles, or to reduce pain and improve mobility.
Coping and Support
Your entire family will likely face new challenges if you have a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy. To care for your child as well as yourself, you can do the following:
- Try to foster your child’s independence by encouraging efforts that exhibit independence, regardless of how small they may be.
- Advocate for your child by speak on their behalf or asking tough questions when it comes to dealing with physicians, therapists, or teachers.
- Find support with groups, organizations, or counseling services, all of which can positively affect your ability to deal with and cope with your child’s illness.
Since cerebral palsy is permanent, dealing with it is 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, and if your child’s cerebral palsy is such a case, we can help you secure the compensation you are legally entitled to so that you can pay for the care and therapy your child needs and deserves. We offer no-obligation case evaluations at no upfront cost, so call us today to speak with a birth injury legal expert and to initiate the claims process for the damages you deserve. Call now at (800) 222-9529.