A baby who suffers from cerebral palsy may have been injured before birth but not be diagnosed with the condition until long after birth. That means that many parents are unaware of their keiki’s problem until long after it occurs, According to Dr. Bruce G. Fagel from Beverly Hills, CA as reported in Nolo:
Cerebral palsy is one of the most serious health problems caused by birth injuries and medical malpractice during labor or childbirth. The condition is thought to be caused by a lack of oxygen to the infant’s brain during child birth. But cerebral palsy has a lifelong impact on affected babies and their families. *** For more in-depth information on birth-related injuries to babies and mothers, check out Nolo’s article Birth-Related Medical Malpractice.
What should a parent look for in a newborn that may indicate that the child suffered an injury from lack of oxygen during labor or childbirth and has a diagnosis of cerebral palsy? Shriners Hospital, a great nationwide medical center explains what to look for in an infant:
Children with CP can exhibit a wide range of symptoms that can be mild or severe. Some markers to look for in your child may include:
- Lack of muscle coordination when engaged in voluntary movements-especially prevalent in ataxia types
- Stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes-found in spastic types
- A child may walk with one foot or leg dragging
- Variations in muscle tone, ranging from too stiff or too floppy
- Excessive drooling or difficulties speaking, sucking or swallowing
- Tremors, a muscle contraction
- Difficulty engaging in precise motions like writing or buttoning a shirt
Any brain injury causing cerebral palsy does not change with time, meaning that these symptoms do not generally worse as the child ages.
There are several types of cerebral palsy. Dr. Fagel explains:
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Neurological disorders in a number of different forms affecting motor abilities are characterized as cerebral palsy. Here are three of the most common types:
Spastic cerebral palsy. Accounting for about 80% of all cerebral palsy cases, spastic cerebral palsy is characterized by stiffness and difficulty moving, due to tightness in one or more muscle groups. Patients with this type of cerebral palsy have a hard time moving from one position to another and have difficulty holding onto and letting go of objects.
Athetoid cerebral palsy. About 10% of cerebral palsy cases are of this type. Athetoid cerebral palsy is typified by involuntary movement, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, inability to maintain posture, and low muscle tone.
Ataxic cerebral palsy. Also accounting for about 10% of cerebral palsy cases, symptoms of ataxic cerebral palsy include depth perception problems, distorted sense of balance, tremors, and difficulty with coordinated muscle movements.
For treatment, parents should find out for themselves what treatments are offered by the great medical centers such as Shriners Hospitals for Children. Shriners Hospital has a facility in Honolulu.
Since the type and severity of cerebral palsy greatly vary from case to case, your child’s treatment will be based on their specific issues and conditions.
Shriners Hospitals for Children offer the following treatments for cerebral palsy:
Movement Analysis: Movement analysis is an important part of understanding how your child walks. Because children with CP often have difficulty walking normally, motion analysis is used to fully understand how the muscles and bones function, and how they can be helped to function more smoothly or effectively.
Medications: Your child may need certain drugs to control or prevent seizures associated with cerebral palsy. Since there are various types of seizures, combinations of drugs may be prescribed that are best suited to your child’s specific condition. Drugs can also be used to reduce spasticity, stiff or rigid muscles that can affect movement, general movements, talking and walking.
Occupational Therapy: Your child may work with an occupational therapist who works with them to improve the development of the small muscles of the body such as their face, feet, fingers, hands and toes. The therapist may also teach your child how to perform daily activities such as eating and dressing along with showing them easier ways to brush their teeth, draw, use scissors and more.
Physical Therapy: A physical therapist specializes in helping with the development of the large body muscles such as those found in the abdomen, arms and legs. Your child may work with a physical therapist to learn easier ways to balance and move. They can help your child learn to walk, stand by themselves, safely go up and down stairs or use a wheelchair. Physical therapy is usually prescribed soon after your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy to prevent any further deterioration or weakening of muscles that can result by not moving.
Speech Language Therapy: Your child may need help with their speech and language. A speech and language therapist helps develop better control of the jaw and mouth muscles which can result in better eating and communication skills. Some children with cerebral palsy are unable to talk and the therapists can build their language skills be it through
New treatments are becoming available such as this one:
Parents should always search for treatments that may make a big difference to the child. In doing so, at a minimum, make sure that any treatment is scientifically proven through independent research and not an unverified alternative medicine treatment that has not been submitted to careful scrutiny by independent science at well respected medical centers like Shriners.
A resident of Honolulu, Hawaii, Wayne Parsons is an Injury Attorney that has dedicate his life to improving the delivery of justice to the people of his community and throughout the United States. He is driven to make sure that the wrongful, careless or negligent behavior that caused his clients' injury or loss does not happen to others.