Information for Parents of Children with Cerebral Palsy

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Are you the parent of a child with a disability? Did you know that medical malpractice could be the cause?

Was your child's birth injury caused by nature or medical malpractice? We can investigate.

Our law firm concentrates on the litigation of birth injuries nationwide. With an OBGYN, labor/delivery nurse and other experienced medical and legal professionals representing your rights, the MEDLAW Legal Team offers families and children the resources and experience necessary to successfully litigate healthcare negligence claims.

Our medical malpractice attorneys focus on the representation of families whose children have developed a disability as a result of negligent medical care.


Treatment of Cerebral Palsy

Childhood Building BlocksWith treatment and therapy, most children can significantly improve their abilities.

The treatment of cerebral palsy may often include: Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy, Psychotherapy, Medication, Surgery, and/or Occupational Therapy.

Most cerebral palsy conditions are caused by a brain injury that occurred during pregnancy or birth (congenital), or in the months/years following birth (Acquired CP). While symptoms range from mild to severe, the condition does not get worse as the child gets older.

A multidisciplinary team of health care professionals develops an individualized treatment plan based on the severity of cerebral palsy. It is imperative to involve patients, families, teachers, and caregivers in all phases of planning, decision making, and treatment. The individualized treatment plan will take into consideration both the immediate needs of the patient, and the long term prognosis for development. A child's brain and nervous system, because they are still developing, have an amazing ability to heal themselves to differing degrees. Often, initial signs of cerebral palsy in milder cases may improve over time, and with proper care, treatment and therapy.

Normally, muscles and tendons stretch and grow at the same rate as bones. With cerebral palsy conditions, muscle development may not keep pace with bone growth due to spasticity or contracture. Physical therapy is an important part of any treatment plan for cerebral palsy patients. Physical therapy may include:

  • Daily range of motion exercises can assist with muscle development, and help keep limbs from growing weak or stiff.
  • Stretches and Exercises can also improve the development of a child's motor skills.
  • As the child ages and prepares for daily living, therapy may focus on improving the ability to sit, move independently, dress, and use the bathroom.
  • Orthotics, such as braces and walkers, can help with limb control and positioning, and can be an important element of therapy - helping the child to perform daily tasks and participate in activities.

Children with cerebral palsy often benefit from speech therapy. In some cases, the lack of control in facial and throat muscles can cause drooling and eating difficulties - speech therapy can help regain some of this control. In addition, children with athetoid (dyskinetic) CP frequently have difficulty pronouncing words, a speech therapist can assist a child with their communication.

A child living with cerebral palsy can sometimes become frustrated, angry and irritable. Psychotherapy can improve behavioral issues, providing encouragement, improving self-esteem, reinforce positive messages, and stop negative behaviors like hair pulling and biting.

Medication may be used to target particular disabilities, such as seizures. As with many forms of drug therapy, a certain amount of experimentation may be required before optimum results are achieved.

  • Antispasmodics are the most common medications used. They relax tight muscles and reduce muscle spasms. The muscle relaxants diazepam (Valium®) and dantrolene (Dantrium®) may be prescribed to control muscle contraction and spasticity.
  • Phenobarbital, Phenytoin, and other Anticonvulsants are needed with patients who suffer seizures.
  • Baclofen is a muscle relaxant and antispastic medication that is available in tablet and injectable forms.
  • Anticholinergics inhibit the effects of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that triggers muscle contraction and may be prescribed to control the abnormal movements associated with athetoid cerebral palsy.
  • Stool softeners and mild laxatives may help treat constipation, which is a common complaint of people with CP.

In addition to the above therapy options and available medications, some surgeries can be beneficial, improving the quality of life for CP patients.

  • Surgery can be performed to loosen tight muscles and release fixed joints. This is most commonly used on major joint centers like hips, knees, and ankles. Only about 5% of people with stiffness of their elbows, wrists, hands, and fingers benefit from surgery.
  • Surgery can be used to cut some of the nerves on limbs most effected by spasms. This procedure can reduce spasms and restore a degree of control.
  • Additional surgeries may be beneficial for those with CP. These include surgeries for orthopedic problems (hip dislocation, uneven leg length, scoliosis, etc.), or medication-related procedures where a pump may be inserted in the abdomen to deliver medications.

For most, cerebral palsy is a life-long condition, however, treatments and environmental management can result in an improved quality of life for families.

Occupational therapy (OT), can help develop fine motor skills such as dressing, feeding, writing, and other daily living tasks. An occupational therapist specializes in improving the development of the small muscles of the body, such as the hands, feet, face, fingers and toes. The goal of occupational therapy is to help people learn physical skills they need to function and become as independent as possible. Occupational therapy uses people's strengths to help them cope with their disabilities.

Staying informed about the latest treatment options, working with medical professionals, and creating a support system of family, friends and educators can assist in the healthy development of your child.

> Read Our Guide for Care

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> Learn More about Vojta Therapy

> Learn More about Additional Treatments

Your Legal Concerns
While most doctors, nurses, midwives, and hospital technicians provide a high standard of care for their patients, unfortunately, many families are harmed by medical mistakes. A physician may have misread fetal monitoring equipment, failed to diagnose fetal distress during labor, waited too long to perform a C Section, administered too much Pitocin, or failed to act in a timely manner. Parents of a child suffering with cerebral palsy should contact an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer to research the cause of their child’s condition.

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