CEREBRAL PALSY FAQs
What are the different types of Cerebral Palsy?
There are four main types of CP:
The first and most common is spastic cerebral palsy. With this type of Palsy, the muscles are in a constant state of spasticity. The result is that a child will exhibit stiff and jerky movements.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is characterized by low muscle tone and poor coordination of muscles. A child will be very shaky and have poor balance and are unsteady when they walk.
Athetoid Cerebral Palsy occurs when the muscle tone is mixed -- sometimes too high and sometimes too low. They may have trouble holding themselves upright in a steady position. Those with athetoid CP may display lots of movements in their face, arms and upper bodies that are involuntary.
Mixed CP occurs when muscle tone is too low in some muscles and too high in other muscles. Approximately ¼ of all cases of CP are defined as mixed.
How does the disorder affect a person?
The manifestations of cerebral palsy can run the spectrum in regards to its severity and differs from person to person. An individual with cerebral palsy will typically have difficulty with motor tasks and dexterity, such as writing or cutting with scissors; experience trouble maintaining balance and walking; or be impaired by involuntary movements, such as uncontrollable writhing motion of the hands or drooling. Others are affected by medical disorders, such as seizures or mental impairment.
Contrary to common belief, cerebral palsy doesn't necessarily cause profound handicap. While a child with severe cerebral palsy might be unable to walk and need extensive, lifelong care, a child with mild cerebral palsy might only be slightly awkward and require no special assistance. The disorder is typically not inherited from one generation to the next and the disorder is certainly not contagious.
What Are Realistic Goals for a child afflicted with Cerebral Palsy?
When thinking of the future for your child, it is best to be both realistic and optimistic. Just as with any other child, it is important to develop skills from the ground up. It is equally important for the parent of a child with cerebral palsy to be realistic about the child's abilities now and for the future. With professional help, the parent will slowly develop realistic goals and it is these goals that the parent, child, and professionals should dedicate their effort.
Occasionally, difficulties in communication arise when the parents, educators, and medical care providers discuss present abilities. Maximizing this level of communication allows parents, educators, and medical care providers to understand where the child is now and where their capabilities will be in the future. An attempt to define future expectations is usually more important in the teenage years and beyond, when function is better defined and the future and potential is more evident to all parties.
Can you ever get rid of CP?
Although the scientific community searches for remedies, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. Fortunately, CP is not a regressive disorder, meaning that it does not gradually erode the affected individual's ability to control the movements of the body. Numerous treatment approaches exist that can improve the body control, including medication, therapies, and surgical options. There does seem to be potential for improvement through Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. For more information on the subject, refer to our page on various treatments.
Is CP ever caused by human error?
Human error can certainly cause cerebral palsy. During delivery, a doctor must make sure that the baby gets enough oxygen. Barriers to this include being stuck in the birth canal or being caught by the umbilical cord. As well, when a baby mores itself into an improper position during childbirth, a doctor must act immediately and sometimes order a C-section. If this is delayed long enough, serious complications and problems are possible, such as the development of cerebral palsy.
The doctor must be sure to deliver the infant within 24 hours after the membranes have broken. Finally, an incorrect administering of drugs can have harmful effects. In general, improper medical care or injury to the brain during the birthing process can have serious and potentially devastating effects for a new born.
What economic relief is available for families with affected children?
While the economic burdens placed upon families can be great, there is much relief available to family with disabled children. Up until the age of three, children qualify for early intervention programs with professionals who provide services either in home or in program centers.
Under both federal and state law, children between the ages of three and twenty-two are entitled to special education services. These laws guarantee that a child with special needs has access to an educational program. These education programs can include speech, occupational and physical therapy services and placement in public and private school programs.
Respite care can provide families with occasional relief from the daily care of your child. These services are offered by several state agencies and are often provided free. Respite care can provide home-health aides, homemakers, etc. in your own home or twenty-four hour care outside the home in group-care settings.
If you often transport your child in your vehicle, you are probably eligible for handicap plates on your car. Often times there is an exemption on the sales tax/excise tax for such a vehicle.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federally funded program that sends a monthly check to children who the federal government determines to be disabled. According to the law, you can still qualify for this program even if you have assets and income.
Medicaid is a federally funded program that can extend medical benefits to disabled children who meet the eligibility criteria. These benefits may even be available to those with substantial incomes if there are large costs associated with the treatment of a child stricken with CP.
Some special services are available for the initial diagnosis and/or additional physician opinions. These would include neurology, orthopedic and cardiac clinics. Often times there is no charge to the family for this initial diagnostic evaluation and financial assistance may be available beyond that.
If you would like more information about your legal rights for an affected loved one, please contact us to speak with a qualified cerebral palsy attorney.