More than 10,000 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year. If your child has symptoms of CP, then you no doubt have many questions.
If your child is being evaluated for cerebral palsy, or has been recently diagnosed with CP, you no doubt have many questions and concerns. You may not know much about CP or know what to expect. We can help answer some of your questions.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of non-progressive motor conditions that can cause physical disability in development, mostly in the areas of movement. It is the result of damage to the motor control centers of brain and often occurs during pregnancy, birth, or up to about age three.
Limitations in movement and posture, as well as hindered sensation and depth perception are common in children with CP. Cognitive impairments and epilepsy also occur in about a third of children diagnosed with CP. Cerebral palsy can often be accompanied by secondary musculoskeletal problems.
As of now, there is no cure for Cerebral Palsy.
What are the Different Types of CP?
There are four classifications to describe the different movement impairments associated with cerebral palsy. These classifications correspond with the area(s) of the brain that are damaged.
The four primary CP classifications are:
- Spastic CP
- Ataxic CP
- Athetoid/dyskinetic CP
- Mixed CP
Spastic cerebral palsy occurs in 80% of all cases. Children with this type of CP experience extreme muscle tension and have what is essentially a neuromuscular mobility impairment. It can be traced to lesions in the central nervous system.
Ataxic cerebral palsy occurs in roughly 10% of all CP cases. It is linked to damage in the cerebellum. Some children with ataxic CP experience tremors. Fine motor skills, like writing, typing, or using scissors can suffer. Balance, especially while walking, will likely be affected. It is common for children with ataxic CP to have difficulty processing visual and/or auditory input.
Athetoid cerebral palsy, also known as dyskinetic cerebral palsy, this form includes is mixed muscle tension in combination with involuntary motions. Children with athetoid cerebral palsy often experience difficulty holding themselves upright. They may also find it hard to hold a steady position while sitting or walking, which typically leads to involuntary motions. For some children with this form of CP, it takes a great deal of effort and focus to get their hands to touch a certain spot, such as the tip of their nose or picking up a toy. They may not be able to hold onto objects, especially smaller ones which demand fine motor control, such as a toothbrush.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of CP?
In children cerebral palsy can present itself in the following ways:
- Abnormal muscle tone
- Poor reflexes
- Underdeveloped motor skills and/or coordination
- Joint and/or bone deformities
- Involuntary movements, such as facial spasms
- Problems maintaining balance
- Decreased muscle mass
- Difficulty walking
For infants, some of the earliest signs of CP include:
- Failure to breathe immediately following delivery
- Lack of muscle tone
- Poor head position
Children born with severe CP often exhibit an irregular posture. Their bodies can appear overly soft or rigid. Symptoms may appear/change with age. Some babies born with CP do not immediately display obvious signs. Typically, CP presents itself when the baby reaches the developmental stage at 6 to 9 months. This is when the child becomes mobile.
Speech and language issues are also common in children with CP. Difficulties with speech are associated with poor breathing and facial muscle control.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
In many cases, there is no discernible cause of cerebral palsy. However, typical causes include exposure to infection, lack of oxygen-rich blood during labor/delivery, complications during the perinatal period, and birth trauma. Additionally, CP tends to be more common in multiple and premature births.
Between 40 and 50% of all children who develop cerebral palsy are born prematurely. These children are more vulnerable, partly because their organs are not fully developed.
Other causes and risk factors include:
- Maternal infection
- Bacterial meningitis
- Breech births
- Viral encephalitis
Legal Help for Children With Cerebral Palsy
If your child suffered a birth injury as the result of medical malpractice or negligence which led to the development of cerebral palsy, the team at Willens Law Offices can help.
We have helped the families of children across Illinois get the compensation they need for a secure future. We strive to give the utmost personal attention to each child and family we represent.
Call Willens Law Offices at (312) 957-4166 for a free case evaluation. Our firm’s expert team are available to you whenever you need them, 24/7.