Typically diagnosed between the ages of 9 months and 3 years old, cerebral palsy is an irreversible neurological disorder that causes significant musculoskeletal impairments, along with difficulty thinking, speaking and coordinating movement. Cerebral palsy can range from being mild to severe, with the most serious cases resulting in an inability to breathe, walk and/or feed oneself. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 800,000 Americans are currently living with cerebral palsy. In fact, one in approximately 280 children has the disorder.
What is a Gait Disorder?
A gait disorder is any type of abnormality that impairs an individual's ability to walk normally. Because cerebral palsy causes many patients to develop an abnormal skeletal structure and/or muscle tone, many patients will have difficulty walking, which can manifest as:
- in-toeing, walking or running with the feet pointed inwards instead of straight
- out-toeing, walking or running with the feet pointed outwards
- toe-walking, walking on the toes/balls of the feet without placing the heels on the ground
- walking without bending the knees (due to stiff knee)
Diagnosing & Treating Gait Problems Caused by CP
Gait disorders will not be apparent until a child starts crawling and learning how to walk. When symptoms of walking problems arise, however, doctors will perform a thorough physical exam of a patient, followed by a series of imaging tests, such as CT scans, MRIs and brain scans. Upon an official diagnosis of cerebral palsy and gait disorder, treatments will need to begin immediately for the best possible prognosis and outcomes.
It's important to note that, in most cases, these gait disorders do not cause patients pain and they can be improved, if not corrected altogether, by:
- Surgery to correct more severe skeletal and/or muscular abnormalities
- Physical therapy and practicing various exercises
- Use of assistive devices, such as walkers, wheelchairs and standing frames
If your child's cerebral palsy affects his/her ability to walk, there are some treatment options available. To find out more information about the treatment options, please contact a cerebral palsy lawyer today. We can also help you with legal remedies that may help you recover financial compensation to help pay for necessary equipment, surgical procedures and more.