What matters most if your child has a birth injury is making sure they get the best medical care available but getting that care can often be expensive. If your child's birth injury has permanent, lifelong consequences, you could be faced with significant medical bills for your child's entire life.
Depending on the nature of your child's injury, your child may need a wide range of medical procedures or treatments that may include:
- Surgery like selective dorsal rhizotomy, where a surgeon cuts some of the nerves at the base of the spine to help with muscle spasms or tendon lengthening surgery to reduce contracted limbs
- Physical therapy
- Prescription drugs to help relax muscle spasms or prevent seizures
- Medical appointments
- In-home health care visits
- Devices to help with mobility, like wheelchairs, walkers, leg or arm braces, or scooters.
- Home reconstruction to accommodate wheelchair use
- A child suffering from cerebral palsy may also need a special computer to help them communicate.
Your child's treatment team
According to the March of Dimes, parents can work with a team of health care providers to figure out their child's needs and come up with a treatment plan. Members of the team can include a:
- Pediatrician. This is a doctor who has special training to take care of babies and children.
- Child neurologist. This is a doctor who has special training in treating brain conditions in babies and children.
- Social worker. This is a person with special training to help people solve problems and make their lives better.
- Psychologist. This is a person with special training to take care of people with emotional or mental health problems, like depression.
- Orthopedic surgeon. This is a doctor with special training to do surgery on bones and muscles.
- Physical therapist. This is a person with special training to create exercise programs.
- Occupational therapist. This is a person who can teach how to do everyday things, like eating, getting dressed and writing.
- Speech and language pathologist. This professional can help a child speak more clearly or communicate in other ways.
- Special education teacher. This educator has special training to help a child with a learning disability.
Paying for long-term care
Permanent birth injuries such as cerebral palsy require lifelong care, and the total cost of a lifetime of care can be substantial. Some government programs, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), can help people with special needs. Those programs don't pay for everything. Creating a special needs trust can help provide for supplemental care without threatening SSI or Medicaid eligibility.
In addition, if the birth injury was sustained as a result of medical malpractice, a malpractice lawsuit can provide funds to pay for long-term care. That's one reason why it's important for families to discuss their legal options with an attorney who has experience handling birth injury cases in their jurisdiction as soon as possible.