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Cerebral Palsy: Frequently Asked Questions

Parents may have many questions about their child with cerebral palsy – questions like what is cerebral palsy, what is the cause of my child’s CP, and what are the different types of cerebral palsy? Questions like these are normally asked when a parent learns that their child has been diagnosed with this unfortunate condition.

Free Cerebral Palsy Case Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, brachial plexus palsy or Erb’s palsy, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and we can help.

Cerebral Palsy FAQ

What is Cerebral Palsy?
The term cerebral palsy refers to any one of a number of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood and permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination but don’t worsen over time. Even though cerebral palsy affects muscle movement, it isn’t caused by problems in the muscles or nerves. It is caused by abnormalities in parts of the brain that control muscle movements. The majority of children with cerebral palsy are born with it, although it may not be detected until months or years later. The early signs of cerebral palsy usually appear before a child reaches 3 years of age. The most common are a lack of muscle coordination when performing voluntary movements (ataxia); stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity); walking with one foot or leg dragging; walking on the toes, a crouched gait, or a “scissored” gait; and muscle tone that is either too stiff or too floppy. A small number of children have cerebral palsy as the result of brain damage in the first few months or years of life, brain infections such as bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis, or head injury from a motor vehicle accident, a fall, or child abuse.

What types of cerebral palsy are there?
Cerebral palsy is a broad term that encompasses many different disorders of movement and posture. To describe particular types of movement disorders covered by the term, pediatricians, neurologists, and therapists use several classification systems and many labels. There are three main types of cerebral palsy:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy – stiff and difficult movement
  • Athetoid Cerebral Palsy – involuntary and uncontrolled movement
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – disturbed sense of balance and depth perception
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy – there may be a combination of these types of cerebral palsy for any one person.

Does cerebral palsy get worse?
No. Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder. This means that whatever damage was done to the brain will not get any worse. The problem that many parents face is that, generally, it is impossible to diagnose cerebral palsy with any certainty in infancy. Many cases are not diagnosed until somewhere around age two. It only appears that the disorder is progressive because the symptoms may not appear until the child’s lack of motor skills, or other developmental delays begin to emerge. For example, a child at age two may have difficulty walking and at age six difficulty in writing and reading. The difficulty in reading and writing is not a progression of the cerebral palsy, but has appeared as a developmental milestone should have been attained. In other words, the difficulty at age six will occur if the brain injury affected that particular developmental milestone, regardless of any interventions on the part of the parents.

Is cerebral palsy preventable?
A significant number of the cerebral palsy cases that occur as the result of a birth injury can be prevented. Medical negligence, such as careless handling of the child’s cranium or an undetected oxygen blockage in the child’s brain, is a factor in many of these preventable cases. Also, as we begin to understand other risk factors, such as blood-type incompatibility, Rubella (contracted during early pregnancy) and other complications, we will be able to prevent additional cases of Cerebral Palsy.

Can Cerebral Palsy be cured?
There is no treatment, as such, that will cure cerebral palsy. The main goal of professionals who work with individuals affected by cerebral palsy is to foster as much independence for the individual as his or her impairment will allow. Individuals with seizure disorders may be effectively controlled with anti-convulsive medications. Physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy are frequently utilized to maximize participation and independence. For individuals who do not have intellectual involvement, accommodations can be made to living spaces, places of employment, and schools so that they may be included in the everyday world of business, education, and recreation. For many individuals with cerebral palsy, inclusion is more a matter or management of their disorder, rather than treatment or a cure.

Do I have a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit?

The Birth Injury Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus exclusively on the representation of plaintiffs in cerebral palsy lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.

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