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Minnesota Cerebral Palsy Lawyer

If you or a loved one has given birth to a child unexpectedly diagnosed with cerebral palsy in the State of Minnesota, it’s important to understand that you may be entitled to significant compensation by filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit. Our cerebral palsy lawyers offer a free, no-obligation review of your potential case.

Estimates from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that roughly 1 in 323 children has been identified with cerebral palsy.

The CDC identifies cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood. It is extremely important for children with cerebral palsy and their families to have support. Read more to learn about how the attorneys at Johnson // Becker can help you and your child.

According to the CDC, roughly 75% to 85% of children with the disorder have spastic cerebral palsy. This means that they have stiff muscles, which can result in awkward movements.

Many children with cerebral palsy have one or more additional diseases or conditions along with their disability, known as co-occurring conditions. For example, about 1 to 10 children with the disorder also have autism spectrum disorder and about 4 in 10 have epilepsy.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term referring to a group of disorders that affect the ability of a person to move. It results from damage to the developing brain during pregnancy, during or shortly after birth, and can lead to a lifelong disability for the affected child.

The term ‘cerebral’ refers to the part of the body that is affected while ‘palsy’ refers to paralysis. That’s because there is a dormant or paralyzed area of the brain, which results in either partial or complete paralysis of the muscles.

Cerebral palsy is a disorder that can affect different people in different ways, and can have an effect on body control, muscle tone, muscle coordination, reflex, balance, and posture.

Although it is a permanent, lifelong condition, some of the signs of the disorder can improve or worsen over time. People with cerebral palsy may also have visual, hearing, speech, learning, intellectual, and epilepsy impairments.

Cerebral palsy has a wide range of severities, which means that it can be mild, moderate, or severe. Some people with the disorder may not appear disabled or may look only mildly uncoordinated.

Other people with cerebral palsy have very little control of the movements of their body and may have other neurological symptoms, such as impaired vision or hearing, seizures, difficulties with speech, or intellectual disability. Many people with the disorder lie between these extremes.

Depending on the severity of their condition, people with cerebral palsy may use wheelchairs, walkers, canes, leg braces, or crutches. However, not everyone with the disorder requires assistive mobility devices.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Newborn baby in a tender embrace of mother at the window.

Newborn baby in a tender embrace of mother at the window.

The term ‘cerebral palsy’ includes a number of different disabilities that are related to the brain or movement. Generally, there are three kinds of cerebral palsy: ataxic cerebral palsy, athetoid cerebral palsy, and spastic cerebral palsy.

It is critical to bear in mind that cerebral palsy can also present itself as a combination of these different types of the disorder.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: This type includes issues that affect the patient’s sense of balance, walking, or depth-perception. It is characterized by difficulty with coordinated movements. Ataxic cerebral palsy is considered the rarest and least diagnosed form of the disorder.

People with ataxic cerebral palsy may have balance issues that are related to the inner ear, and therefore have a speech impediment. Generally, they have difficulty in doing anything from using a pencil or buttoning a shirt, to tying shoelaces. As they try to concentrate more on the finite skill, people with this type of cerebral palsy may have a tremor because the muscles are taxed by the effort.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy: This type of cerebral palsy is characterized by uncontrolled, involuntary, and in some cases, abnormal movements. It is also defined by involuntary twitching, which is sometimes referred to as choriform.

Considered the most common form of the disorder, athetoid cerebral palsy often comes with a lack of control over oral muscles, resulting in drooling and other issues involving the mouth. It also involves a lack of control of muscles all over the body, which differ in tone – they are either tight or flabby – and may often contract involuntarily. Athetoid cerebral palsy is also known as choreoathetoid cerebral palsy.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy: This form of cerebral palsy is characterized by stiffness in at least one limb and difficulty in moving limbs. It is further characterized by the limbs the disorder affects. Spastic cerebral palsy can have a primary or exclusive effect on the legs (spastic diplegia), all four limbs (spastic quadriplegia or tetraplegia cerebral palsy), or one side of the body (spastic hemiplegia).

There are rare cases where spastic cerebral palsy can cause spastic monoplegia (in which one limb is affected) or spastic triplegia (in which three limbs are affected). Children with spastic quadriplegia have a more serious case of the disease and take much longer to go through developmental milestones, such as crawling and walking. Some also experience extreme pain which precludes from wanting to learn how to crawl, walk, etc.

Apart from the three main type of cerebral palsy, there are other forms of the disease which include:

Diplegic Cerebral Palsy: Also referred to as Little’s Disease or spastic diplegia, diplegic cerebral palsy was the first ever form of the disease to be scientifically diagnosed and named. Those with this form of cerebral palsy are affected by tense muscle and muscle spasticity only from the lower muscle groups – their upper body is not affected at all. In some cases, the legs cross at the knees, which is known as scissoring, making it difficult to walk.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: This is another name for athetoid cerebral palsy. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is sometimes a name given to a type of brain injury that originates from a hypoxic-ischemic brain injury or bilrubin encephalopathy.

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy: This is a name given to describe a form of cerebral palsy that is mostly related to abnormal muscular movements. Dystonia is when the muscles are spastic or move involuntarily in slow, writhing movements. A form of athetoid cerebral palsy, dystonic cerebral palsy could also be used to describe muscle tone variation, such as a child with some extremely tight muscles and some floppy ones.

Epidural Hematoma Cerebral Palsy: While several forms of cerebral palsy define the disease based on the symptoms experienced, epidural hematoma cerebral palsy is one of the types that describes how a child got cerebral palsy. In the case of this particular type of the disease, the cerebral palsy is caused by a stroke that most likely occurred at birth.

Hemiphlegic or Hemiparetic Cerebral Palsy: Often caused by a stroke, this type of cerebral palsy comes with stiffness of the muscles or spasticity on only one side of the body. Children with hemiparetic cerebral palsy may have issues with an arm and a hand, or one leg. They may also have speech problems. They are also more prone to seizures than those with other forms of cerebral palsy.

Hypertonic or Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy: Because the symptoms appear faster, hyper- and hypotonic cerebral palsy are diagnosed earlier than other types of the disease. Babies with this form of cerebral palsy are floppy, often described as being similar to a rag doll. They resist very little when parents move their limbs and generally do not lift muscle groups or sit up at all. When they do sit up, they have an extremely difficult time holding their head up.

Grade 1 IVH Cerebral Palsy: When patients experience intracranial hemorrhage, doctors rate the hemorrhage grade to assess the prognosis. When a patient has Grade 1 IVH, it means that they likely experienced bleeding in the ventricles and are not likely to go through many long-term effects.

When a child is diagnosed with Grade 1 IVH cerebral palsy, they may have some developmental setbacks. However, they generally have a mild form of the disease that can be treated with different types of therapy.

Extrapyramidial (Non-Spastic) Cerebral Palsy: This is another form of axatic cerebral palsy and involves speech problems, difficulties with motor skills, and respiratory problems. Although a child with non-spastic cerebral palsy has trouble with muscle groups and these functions, the muscles do not involuntarily writhe or contract.

Periventricular Leukomalacia Cerebral Palsy: This type of cerebral palsy is primarily related to the brain and less to the muscles. While children with periventricular leukomalacia cerebral palsy do experience issues with muscle groups. They mostly exhibit developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, and often develop epilepsy. Those with this form of the disease are prone to more seizures than children with other types of cerebral palsy.

Subdural Hematoma Cerebral Palsy: This is also a type of cerebral palsy that involves an intracranial hemorrhage and often develops from a direct brain injury, such as blunt force to a baby’s head or dropping a baby. The tiny veins between the brain’s surface and the dura stretch and tear, which in turn collects blood and results in a brain injury.

Signs and Symptoms

Cerebral palsy is marked by movements that are spastic, a lack of control over muscles, and sometimes the inability to use muscles.

The disorder is also often determined by slow, abnormal, writhing movements the child is unable to control. In addition, muscle tone varies between stiff and floppy, which could also lead to the ability to use some muscles over others. Intellectual disabilities and/or missing developmental milestones are other signs that your child may have cerebral palsy.

According to the CDC, some of the clinical signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy include the following:

  • Issues with Coordination and Control: Those with cerebral palsy have limited coordination as well as control. In is more often than not more pronounced when they are overwhelmed or stressed. Some of the common problems with coordination and control experienced by people with cerebral palsy include spastic movements, dragging one leg while walking, walking with toes pointed inward or outward, walking with a wide gait, and waddling when walking.
  • Muscle Tone: As mentioned earlier, people with cerebral palsy lack control over their muscles. This in turn may make it extremely difficult for them to perform what seem like simple and easy tasks. For example, walking, sitting down, grasping objects, and tying shoes may prove to be hard and exhausting for people with the disorder.
  • Oral Motor Problems: For a large number of people with cerebral palsy, the spastic movements of face muscles will result in difficulties with communication. Oral motor issues can also have an effect on breathing, closing the mouth, eating, and swallowing.
  • Abnormal Reflexes: People with cerebral palsy are likely to have abnormal reflex responses such as spinal gallant reflexes, palmer grasp reflex, and symmetrical or asymmetrical tonic reflex. In some infants, there may be motor reflexes, but they generally clear up by the time they are 5 months old.

Causes

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

There are a number of reasons that some children are born unexpectedly with cerebral palsy. Learn more below.

Cerebral palsy results from a combination of events before, during or after birth that can cause an injury in the developing brain of a baby.

There is no single cause of cerebral palsy. The cause remains unknown for most babies born with the disease. Recent research has shown that only a very small percentage of cerebral palsy cases are due to complications at birth, such as lack of oxygen or asphyxia.

Nowadays, it is widely accepted the disease usually manifests itself from a series of causal pathways, meaning that a sequence of events that, when occurring together, can cause or accelerate injury to a baby’s developing brain.

Causes of cerebral palsy can vary greatly depending on the form of the disease that the person has. In some cases, the cause of the disorder is not known.

While cerebral palsy does not worsen as a child grows older and the symptoms can more often than not be managed with ongoing treatment and therapy, there is still no known cure for it.

It is important to understand the causes and the form of cerebral palsy your child has in order to help your child manage the disability as successfully as possible.

Causes of Congenital Cerebral Palsy

Congenital cerebral palsy is when a child develops the disorder before or during birth. This form of the disease is marked by development before birth. According to the CDC, congenital cerebral palsy is the most common form of the disorder. The most common causes of this form of cerebral palsy include:

Infections During Pregnancy: Infections such as rubella, chicken pox, and cytomegalovirus (CMV) may increase the risk of an infant developing cerebral palsy as these diseases increase cytokins, which are tiny proteins that act as receptors in the body. Infant brain damage can develop when large amounts of cytokins are released, and this in turn can cause cerebral palsy. Mothers with a urinary tract infection (UTI) and/or high fevers also run the risk of an infant developing cerebral palsy.

Twins or Multiple Births: The chances of cerebral palsy are increased when mothers give birth to more than one baby. In most cases, this is due to low birth weight.

Jaundice: The common misconception is that jaundice is a minor medical condition that will not pose any long-term medical issues. However, the condition can lead to a host of serious problems if left untreated. Such serious problems include an increased risk of developing cerebral palsy.

Low Birth Weight: Infants who weigh less than 5 pounds are at an increased risk of developing cerebral palsy, with infants less than 3 pounds being the group with the highest risk. Since most premature babies typically weight 5 pounds or less, infants who are born prematurely are also at risk.

Birth Problems: Placental problems, uterine rupture, and problems with the umbilical cord can all result in an increase in the risk of the infant developing cerebral palsy.

Incompatible Blood: When the blood types of a mother and an infant are not compatible, it can result in Rh factor diseases, which in turn increases the risk of cerebral palsy. However, if a doctor detects the incompatibility of blood in time, they can give the mother an Rh immune globulin injection starting at about the 28th week of pregnancy.

Chorioamnionitis: A study conducted by San Diego’s University of California found that when chorioamnionitis is present in the womb during pregnancy, the risk of an infant developing cerebral palsy is increased by up to four times.

Infertility Treatments: Many infants who are born after infertility treatments are likely to be born prematurely with low birth rates. This causes an increase in the risk of an infant developing cerebral palsy.

Causes of Acquired Cerebral Palsy

Acquired cerebral palsy occurs when an infant develops damage to the brain at least 28 days or more after birth. This form of the disorder occurs much less often than congenital cerebral palsy. In fact, roughly 20% of all people with cerebral palsy are affected by acquired cerebral palsy. The most common causes include:

  • Traumatic Head Injuries: These types of injuries can occur when an infant is dropped, falls, or is in an accident. If there is brain damage after a traumatic brain injury (TBI), it may be followed by acquired cerebral palsy.
  • Low Birth Weight: Similar to congenital cerebral palsy, the risk of acquired cerebral palsy is also increased by low birth weight.
  • Blood Flow Problems: Problems with blood flow, particularly in the brain, raises the risk of acquired cerebral palsy. Common blood flow problems in the brain can occur as a result of sickle cell diseases, unformed blood vessels, blood clotting, and/or heart defects.

Brain Damage

Whether it occurs before, during or after childbirth, the fact is that brain damage can lead to cerebral palsy. In the past, many physicians believed that the disorder was related to brain damage that occurred during birth as a result of asphyxiation.

This is partially true, with at least 1 out of every 10 infants developing cerebral palsy after they suffered from asphyxiation. However, research conducted recently shows that brain damage that occurs before birth can also cause the disorder. Brain damage occurs during birth in a few different ways that increase the risk of developing cerebral palsy.

Mothers must be monitored on a frequent basis during pregnancy, especially if they have high blood pressure or any infections.

Both high blood pressure and infections may lead to brain damage in infants, which can lead to cerebral palsy. On top of this, abnormal brain development during pregnancy can result in the disorder. Trauma to the baby’s head, mutations in the genes, or a maternal infection can lead to abnormal brain development in infants.

Medical Negligence

Although there are a number of cerebral palsy cases that are caused without reason, there are many cases where there was failure on the part of physicians to properly identify medical problems and/or take the appropriate actions during and after birth to reduce the risk of the disorder.

The most common reasons that cerebral palsy occurs as a result of medical negligence include the following:

  • Failure to properly assess and monitor the fetal heartbeat during and after childbirth
  • Failure to schedule and provide a C-section in a timely manner
  • Failure to detect and treat maternal infections
  • Failure to use tools to assist birth correctly, such as a vacuum extraction tool or forceps
  • Failure to correct problems with the umbilical cord, such as a prolapsed cord
  • Failure to supply oxygen to an asphyxiated infant in a timely manner
  • Failure to monitor oxygen and respiratory treatments

It is not easy to determine if an infant will develop cerebral palsy. A lifetime of cognitive issues and medical problems could result from one slight medical mishap. However, you can take preventative measures to reduce the risk of your baby developing cerebral palsy.

  • Get regular prenatal care. If you have any health concerns, you should not hesitate to ask your doctor. If you feel uncomfortable regarding your pregnancy care in any way, you should seek a second medical opinion.
  • Make sure that you are up to date on your vaccinations. As mentioned earlier, maternal rubella and chicken pox can cause your child to develop cerebral palsy.
  • Wash your hands regularly and practice a salient hygiene routine to reduce your risk of infections.
  • It is vital to make sure that you know your blood type. Keep in mind that Rh incompatibility can result in jaundice, which in turn can cause cerebral palsy.

Tests for Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy

cerebral palsy diagnosis

Adorable baby girl sitting on a mat playing with a toy at home.

Diagnosis of cerebral palsy is not always an easy process as it is a complex disability. Doctors may suspect that a baby has cerebral palsy if they display slow motor development, unusual posture, or has floppy or tight muscle tone.

The time varies when doctors give parents an official diagnosis that their child has cerebral palsy. Babies that are very premature are usually monitored carefully and may need to get an early MRI scan done.

However, the majority of children with cerebral palsy are not premature babies. Most are born at full term and no form of disability is considered until they fail to meet the usual infant milestones. An MRI might show that there is an injury to the brain, but in most cases, it is too early to predict the impact at that stage.

Doctors will diagnose cerebral palsy after paying special attention to the movements of the child – both their muscle tone and voluntary movements.

As mentioned already, some children may have stiff, tight muscles, while the muscles in other children may be relaxed and floppy. Doctors will also look if the child favors one side to the other or has unusual postures.

One of the frustrations parents experience is that a diagnosis can sometimes take a very long time. It requires repeated visits to specialists and tests. This may be due to the child having a mild form of cerebral palsy.

The signs of mild cerebral palsy often tend to go unnoticed until the patient reaches the ages 3 to 5. But it could also be because the doctor needs to make sure the child has not developed some other type of movement disorder that may get worse over time (a progressive disorder).

Moderate to more severe cases of cerebral palsy are often diagnosed by the time a child reaches the age of 2 years. The type of cerebral palsy that a child has may also have an effect on how soon the doctor can make a diagnosis.

Imaging Tests

If a doctor thinks that a child may have cerebral palsy, they may use imaging tests. There are several imaging technologies that can help in uncovering the extent of a child’s condition.

Imaging tests are rather useful and come in handy to help in the assessment of other conditions that occur alongside cerebral palsy, like seizures, and determining their cause. There have been some cases where imaging tests have resulted in a conclusive diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

Imaging tests that are ordered out for children that doctors suspect of having cerebral palsy include:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): As mentioned earlier, doctors may get an early MRI scan done on premature babies as part of monitoring them.

An MRI produces a three-dimensional image of the brain and can help reveal any abnormalities that are contributing to problems with motor function. The process can take up to an hour, and when used for children, MRIs are generally considered a safe and painless procedure.

Doctors use MRIs to check for any neurological irregularity in children who may be showing signs of cerebral palsy. The test can also be used to determine the cause of the disorder.

Computed Tomography (CT): This type of imaging test takes cross-sectional images of a child’s brain. CT scans can take about 15-20 minutes and are generally employed in order to detect and diagnose cerebral palsy. They can also help in eliminating any other conditions or diseases with symptoms that are similar to cerebral palsy. A CT scan can be used to detect things like skull fractures, bleeding in the brain, and other related brain conditions.

CT scans can also help determine the cause and time of a brain injury that resulted in the development of cerebral palsy. The results of this imaging test appear similar to an x-ray and feature images of different angles so that various organs and tissues can be clearly examined.

Cranial Ultrasound: Although not as detailed as an MRI or CT scan, a cranial ultrasound is often used because the process is quick and easy for patients. This imaging test may provide evidence of the likelihood of a child in developing cerebral palsy by giving doctors a way to see an image of the brain tissue.

Cranial ultrasounds can also help determine if a child has cerebral palsy after they are born. Although there may be early signs of the condition before or during birth, in cases of mild cerebral palsy, it may take up to 5 years of age for doctors to render a complete diagnosis.

A cranial ultrasound is used to capture subtle changes in white matter – the type of brain tissue that is damaged when cerebral palsy occurs.

Electroencephalogram (EEG): EEGs measure the brain’s electrical activity. There are distinct electrical patterns in the brain of children with seizures. Doctors diagnose epilepsy by using this imaging test to record those patterns.

During an EEG, a series of electrodes will be attached to the scalp of patients so that the electrical energy can be measured. Because of the correlation between epilepsy and cerebral palsy, if a doctor uses this test to determine that a child has epilepsy, it may increase the chances of diagnosing cerebral palsy.

Other Tests for Children with Cerebral Palsy

It is important for doctors to perform a complete assessment of their patients at all times. On top of standard imaging tests, doctors may conduct a series of other evaluations for conditions that often come with cerebral palsy, like intellectual disabilities. It is critical for doctors to have the whole picture so that they can provide the child with effective treatment and care.

Some of these tests include the following:

  • Vision tests
  • Hearing tests
  • Speech tests
  • Intellectual tests

In addition to these, doctors may need blood tests so that hereditary conditions that affect motor function can be ruled out in children who might have developed cerebral palsy.

Treatment

Cerebral Palsy Treatment

Smiling doctor examining his little patient

Although there is no known cure for cerebral palsy, there are a wide range of treatments that have been proven successful in helping people with cerebral palsy have more productive lives. If your infant or child has cerebral palsy, it is vital to understand the treatment options that are available to help in determining what will work best for you and your family.

Cerebral palsy is a wide-spectrum disorder that ranges from mild to severe, and your child’s individual circumstances will play a key role in determining the best treatment.

Physical Therapy

The American Physical Therapy Association states that the most vital you can do for treating cerebral palsy is to get a child with the disorder involved in physical therapy.

Physical therapy involves a series of muscle training to rehabilitate the physical disabilities of the child. Since each child has a unique situation, a professional physical therapist will typically perform an assessment and provide individual physical therapy plans based upon its findings. Some of the common exercises in physical therapy sessions include:

  • Stretching and joint mobilization training
  • Therapeutic endurance exercises
  • Specialized strength exercises
  • Balance practice

In some cases, children with cerebral palsy will have swimming therapy incorporated into their physical therapy sessions. These sessions are done with caution and careful assistance, but are essential since they allow children to use muscle groups and do therapeutic exercises they are otherwise unable to do.

On top of this, depending on how severe their disability is, some children with cerebral palsy may engage in ball-throwing and dancing. For those who cannot move without assistance, there may be specialized computers, as well as braces and wheelchairs.

Surgery

Cerebral Palsy Surgery

Mother lovingly holding child’s hand after surgery.

Surgery is a viable option in some instances to control pain, improve mobility, and prevent deformities.

There are several different types of surgical procedures for the treatment of cerebral palsy, and a doctor typically determines the best type according to the individual needs of your child. The most common forms of surgery for cerebral palsy treatment include:

Hearing Surgery: This type of surgery is performed to treat blockage and infections in the ear that many people with cerebral palsy are prone to getting. Hearing surgery, also helps in treating nerve fiber damage to the inner ear, which is another common problem with children with the disorder.

In addition to surgery, hearing aids, computer visuals, sign language, body gesture training, and lip cues are helpful.

Vision Surgery: This surgery helps patients with cerebral palsy have more control over eye movement as well as repair vision impairment and/or loss. However, before offering vision surgery, doctors usually test out eyeglasses or contact lenses first. If the vision is still impaired, it is typically followed by surgery.

The parents of many patients with cerebral palsy who underwent vision surgery state that it helped with daily activities and socialization progress. Experts also suggest that an important factor in life expectancy in patients with cerebral palsy is normal vision.

Orthopedic Surgery: When it comes to surgery for cerebral palsy patients, orthopedic surgery is the most common because it is considered the least invasive when compared to other types of surgeries. The location of this procedure can take place in multiple areas of the body, including the wrists, arms, shoulders, back, spine, hips, ankles, legs, and feet.

The aim of orthopedic surgery is to help in controlling pain, while allowing the patient to concentrate on independent mobility and self-care. Most children with cerebral palsy undergo this type of surgical procedure in their lower extremities (feet, ankles, legs) although some benefit more from surgery on their upper extremities (upper back, shoulders, arms).

Surgery for Medicinal Needs: Infants and children who rely on medication for consistent, chronic pain may benefit from surgery that allows the medicine to be dispensed continuously. The most common method for dispensing medicine to those who experience severe pain associated with cerebral palsy is a Baciofen pump.

Before inserting the pump, doctors perform a procedure known as “lumbar puncture”, in which doctors inset a small Baciofen dosage into the spinal column of the patient for testing purposes. If the testing is successful, the pump is surgically inserted into the abdominal area and connected through a small tube to the spinal cord.

Medications

Cerebral Palsy Medications

Happy family in the city park, one child with cerebral palsy

Medication for cerebral palsy is meant to help patients in controlling pain and reducing complications with the disorder.

Similar to other forms of treatment, the type of medicine that your child requires will depend on how severe the disorder is and the complications that are involved. The most common types of medication for cerebral palsy include:

  • Muscle Relaxants: Baclofen, Valium, and other muscle relaxants promote relaxation of the muscles by reducing stiff muscles and spasms. Most muscle relaxants are given orally unless it’s necessary to undergo special surgery for continuous administration.
  • Seizure Medication: Many people with cerebral palsy experience seizures. This common problem can be controlled with the help of anti-convulsant medication such as Lamictal and Trileptal.
  • Anticholinergic Medication: For people with dystonic cerebral palsy, doctors may prescribe anticholinergic medication like Robinal. These types of medications help cerebral palsy patients who drool often and have uncontrollable movements of the body.

It is crucial to note that a number of doctors feel it is harmful to prescribe muscle relaxant medications to growing children, specifically because the side effects may be more detrimental than the muscle stiffness and spasms they experience.

However, some doctors feel that muscle relaxants provide benefits to children with cerebral palsy that outweigh the side effects. Your doctor will be able to information about the best medications for your child’s needs.

Related Conditions

It is rare for medical conditions and disabilities to occur in a vacuum. More often than not, they are connected to other conditions, especially in cases involving the brain.

Since cerebral palsy is a disability that affects the cerebellum and other parts of the brain, it is closely related to a number of different medical conditions that have adverse effects on the health and quality of life of a baby.

Congenital Conditions: According to the CDC, 80% to 90% of all cerebral palsy cases are caused by congenital conditions. This means that most occurrences of brain injury take place during pregnancy. The CDC states there are a number of risk factors and/or conditions linked to cerebral palsy acquired before or during childbirth, including:

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Assisted reproductive technology (ART) infertility treatments
  • Multiple births

Keep in mind that if a baby’s birth involves any of these risk factors, it does not automatically mean the infant will develop cerebral palsy. All it means is the chances of such an occurrence are more likely when the aforementioned risk factors above are present.

Intracranial Hemorrhage: Cerebral palsy can sometimes be caused by bleeding, or hemorrhages, within the infant’s skull. Known as intracranial hemorrhage, this type of medical emergency can be caused by leakage or breakage of a vein or artery in the skull.

It can also be caused by traumatic events, like a head injury, or non-traumatic ones, such as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or neonatal stroke. Intracranial hemorrhages can result from pressure on a baby’s skull while passing through the birth canal. They can also be caused by a traumatic head injury resulting from a baby being dropped during or after delivery by a doctor or other medical staff member.

Jaundice: This condition is often present in newborns shortly after birth. Jaundice is caused when a chemical known as bilirubin begins to build up in the infant’s blood. When excessive amounts of this chemical starts to accumulate in the body of a newborn, a yellowish hue develops in the sclera (white) of the eyes as well as the skin.

Although jaundice is common, you should bear in mind that despite popular myths, the condition is not always safe and will not always heal on its own. Excessive buildup of bilrubin in the baby’s system can result in brain damage.

Kernicterus: This medical condition is the result of severe jaundice that is not treated promptly. Excessive amounts of bilrubin can seep out of the blood of the baby and pool inside delicate brain tissue. When bilrubin collects in a baby’s brain, it leaves yellow stains on the surface.

Since the chemical is toxic to the sensitive cells of the cerebellum, it triggers brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy and other complications, which includes hearing loss.

Prognosis

Cerebral Palsy Prognosis

Adult with cerebral palsy sitting on wheelchair and stretching hands at sunset.

Many infants and children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy may go on to live normal lives. However, you should bear in mind the prognosis is different for each person, depending on the severity of the disorder.

Although cerebral palsy is not a progressive condition, many children can go on to live full, productive lives. There are however certain factors that every parent needs to take into account when they deal with the prognosis and life expectancy of a disorder that has such a wide spectrum of symptoms.

There are a number of factors that will have an effect on the prognosis of an infant or child with cerebral palsy. Parents should know what these factors are, to help them in reducing health risks and making sure their children maintain the best quality of life as possible with their given situations.

They should also discuss these factors with their doctor to better understand them and provide the treatment and care their children need.

Factors that influence cerebral palsy prognosis include:

  • Amount of impairments and disabilities
  • Limitations in mobility
  • Visual problems
  • Feeding problems

Although problems related to cerebral palsy create many challenges for disabled children as well as their families and caregivers, you can improve your child’s prognosis in many ways.

You should keep in mind that not every case of cerebral palsy is the same and that you, the primary physician of your child, and other caregivers need to tailor a care plan around the specific needs of your child.

This means that everyone involved needs to be aware of the physical and cognitive issues of a child, provide the necessary treatments, and promptly address problems that require attention. Goal-setting is also a key factor in the success of the comprehensive care plan that your child receives.

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We would be honored to speak with you and respond promptly to every inquiry we receive.

If you or a loved one has given birth to a child unexpectedly diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it’s important to understand that you may be entitled to significant compensation by filing a Cerebral Palsy lawsuit.

With the overall cost to raise a child diagnosed cerebral palsy exceeding $1 million dollars, you should explore your options in preserving your right to a large settlement.

Our Minnesota cerebral palsy lawyers offer a free, no-obligation review of your potential case. There are absolutely no out of pocket expenses and all consultations are free of charge.

Please contact us using the form below or by calling us at (800) 279-6386. We would be honored to speak with you and respond promptly to every inquiry we receive.

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