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What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders typically diagnosed at birth. This type of disorder can affect a person’s ability to move, as well as their balance and posture. Here, we want to further define cerebral palsy, look at some of the causes of this type of disorder, and examine whether or not individuals are able to recover compensation if cerebral palsy was caused by the actions of another. A Houston birth injury attorney can help you understand your legal options if a loved one is impacted by this medical condition.

Image of Child Being Treated for Cerebral Palsy in a Hospital

Understanding Cerebral Palsy

In order to begin to understand cerebral palsy, we want to break down the phrase. Cerebral refers to having to do with the brain. Palsy can mean weakness as well as problems with the muscles. So, cerebral palsy is a weakness or other issues with muscles that have to do with abnormal brain development or damage to the brain.

Since this is a group of disorders, the signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy will vary from person to person. Every individual with cerebral palsy will have some sort of issue with posture or movement. However, depending on the severity of cerebral palsy, individuals can also suffer from intellectual disabilities, issues with their vision, hearing, or speech, as well as changes in the spine or joint problems. Those with cerebral palsy can also suffer from seizures.

Cerebral palsy does not get worse over time, though the symptoms a person experiences could alter slightly as they age. Those with severe CP may need to use specialized equipment to help them walk, and some may not be able to walk at all. These individuals will likely need lifelong care. On the other hand, those with mild CP may suffer from some issues with walking or movement, but they may be able to get by without much additional assistance.

Medical professionals will classify cerebral palsy according to the main type of movement disorder the person suffers from. This will depend on the area of the brain that was affected originally. Cerebral palsy individuals can suffer from stiff muscles (spasticity), uncontrolled movements (dyskinesia), and poor coordination or balance (ataxia).

How Will This Affect a Child?

The early signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy will vary significantly depending on the type of cerebral palsy and the level of disability. The main signs that a child has some sort of disability at this stage are delays in the child reaching certain movement or motor milestones, including sitting, standing, rolling over, or walking.

Additional signs and symptoms can include a child feeling floppy or stiff, their head lagging when they picked them up, the child overextending their neck or back, or the legs becoming stiff and crisscrossing or scissoring when they are picked up.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy may not be noticeable until after a child reaches six or ten months of age, and these symptoms can include a child not being able to bring their hands together, having difficulty bringing their hands to their mouth, or reaching out with only one hand while keeping the other hand fisted.

We strongly encourage any parent who recognizes motor or motion development delays to speak to their child’s pediatrician to have them tested for any type of disability.

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