Caused by brain damage, cerebral palsy (CP) is an incurable condition that impairs a patient's ability to think, speak, perceive and interact with their environment. In nearly 90 percent of all cerebral palsy patients, the traumatic event that caused the condition took place in the womb or during the birthing process. Only approximately 10 percent of all cerebral palsy cases are caused by trauma that occurs following birth. Some of the most common causes of cerebral palsy include congenital abnormalities, fetal/maternal infections, cutting off an infant's oxygen supply and medical mistakes.
If you suspect that your child has cerebral palsy, it's essential that you see a doctor immediately for an exam and proper diagnosis. It will be beneficial to your child to start all recommended treatments as soon as possible; pursuing all long-term treatments recommended by a doctor will help ensure a higher quality of life for your child.
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
In most cases, cerebral palsy symptoms will not become apparent until after a newborn has matured a bit - generally between 3 months and 9 months old. In the mildest cases, children may not be officially diagnosed until they are 5 years old. Cerebral palsy symptoms typically include:
- Abnormally toned muscles (which can be under- or overly toned)
- An inability to perform tasks that require dexterity, such as writing
- Drooling and/or difficulty speaking
- Difficulty walking
- Mental retardation
- Paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Problems controlling their bowels
- Problems with balance and coordination
- Psychiatric conditions, such as ADHD, anxiety disorder and/or depression
- Self-esteem issues
- Plasticity, tremors, writhing and/or other involuntary movements
Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis in Infants & Babies
Infants who start seizing within the first days of birth, usually within the first week, should be tested for cerebral palsy. As babies grow, mothers should keep their eyes out for signs such as an inability to crawl, walk, stand without support and/or speak. In order to confirm or officially rule out the presence of cerebral palsy, medical professionals will perform tests that may include:
- Blood tests to rule out other conditions, such as stroke, which can mimic the symptoms of cerebral palsy
- Brain scans, including CT scans and MRIs
- Electroencephalograms, which measure the brain's electrical activity
- Physical exams to evaluate gait, muscle tone, balance and coordination
If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you may be confused, upset and overwhelmed. The emotional stress coupled with the economic damages stemming from hefty medical and treatment costs can be traumatic. Depending on the nature of your case, you may be entitled to seek compensation for the damages you face. To find out if you qualify, contact a cerebral palsy attorney today.