What is Cerebral Palsy?
Learning that your child, or a child you love, has suffered a potentially devastating birth injury is both terrifying and heart breaking. You may feel like your world is crashing down around you, but you’ve made a positive step. You have come here to learn and to help your child, and we are going to help you do just that.
Your first questions are probably “What is cerebral palsy?” and “What will it do to my child?”
This page will cover the initial questions:
- What is cerebral palsy?
- What are the symptoms?
- What are the effects on the child with cerebral palsy?
From there you will certainly have more questions, and we encourage you to read our other informative pages:
What is cerebral palsy?
“Cerebral” means having to do with the brain. “Palsy” means a problem with the muscles or movement of the body. To cut to the chase: cerebral palsy is a brain problem which affects the body, usually movement of the body.
More specifically, there is damage to an area of your child’s brain, usually due to oxygen deprivation before, during, or shortly after birth, and that damage is affecting the brain’s ability to control the body. Different types of cerebral palsy affect the body in different ways. Cerebral palsy is not contagious!
Although CP is normally caused around the time of birth, it’s not always a cut and dried thing, meaning you don’t always know if your child has it right away. Sometimes it is not diagnose for several months or even a few years. The sooner you recognize it and start treatment, the better off your child will be. CP symptoms to be aware of include:
- Very floppy or very stiff baby, or alternating between the two
- Difficulty sucking or swallowing
- Delays in development such as:
- Head control
- Rolling over
- Sitting without support
- Reaching with one hand
- One side of the body very strong or tense and the other side of the body is weak or flaccid
Effects on the child
The effects of cerebral palsy can range from mild to very severe, and in truth it can go beyond what we normally think of as movement to affect hearing, motor skills, and development. In some cases it can cause learning disabilities. Effects of cerebral palsy can include:
- Loss or lack of motor skills
- Hearing problems
- Vision problems
- Speech problems
- Learning disabilities
- Behavioral problems
- Food aspiration
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Tooth decay
- Sleep disorders
The extent of the effects of CP vary widely. Some children with CP actually go on to have a normal life. Others may be dependent on a wheelchair, but suffer no cognitive impairment, while it can also work in the reverse. A child may be able to walk and get around on his or her own, but need lifelong supervision. Rehabilitation and therapy can help a child expand his or her abilities and overcome some of the physical, cognitive, and emotional limitations.
All of this will depend on the severity of the injury to the brain, how quickly restorative measures are taken, the quality of care your child receives once CP is discovered, and most importantly, the love and support of family and friends. Parents and loved ones who are knowledgeable, seek the most advanced therapies, and provide positive reinforcement can make the biggest difference of all for a child with CP.
Cerebral palsy is often the result of a birth injury caused by medical negligence. If your child suffers from CP, contact and experience birth injury attorney today.