A Nationwide Birth Injury Resource

Help for Pennsylvania Cerebral Palsy Victims

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a muscle and movement disorder that impacts many children in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. The root cause of CP is damage to certain parts of the brain, usually sustained during pregnancy, during birth or shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy has no cure because the underlying brain damage is permanent, but children with CP can live healthy, meaningful lives with proper treatment and therapy.

What is cerebral palsy?

"Cerebral palsy" is an umbrella term that refers to a family of related movement and muscle disorders. There are five general types of CP:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy
  • Dyskinetic cerebral palsy
  • Hypotonic cerebral palsy
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy
  • Mixed cerebral palsy

Symptoms of cerebral palsy can include:

  • Poor muscle tone and "floppiness"
  • Stiff muscles
  • Problems walking, such as toe walking
  • Involuntary movements
  • Problems with reflexes and coordination
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Irregular posture

Cerebral palsy varies in terms of severity and extent. For instance, some children with CP are only impacted on one side of the body, while others have problems with all four limbs. While cerebral palsy doesn't get better or worse over time, the symptoms can change as the child's body grows and develops.

Understanding co-occurring disorders

Unfortunately, many children with cerebral palsy have numerous other health problems due to the underlying brain damage. For example, many children with CP have seizures (epilepsy). Controlling those seizures can be difficult because cerebral palsy often causes seizures to be more severe and last longer.

Other related health issues include heart disease, gastrointestinal (GI) problems and osteoporosis. Many children with CP have learning disabilities or communication disorders. It's also quite common for CP patients to develop mental health issues like depression or anxiety.

Treatments and therapies for cerebral palsy

Again, there is no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatment can help to control the symptoms and maximize quality of life.  Some of those treatments include:

  • Medication - for example, medicines to relax muscles or control seizures.
  • Therapy - including physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech-language therapy.
  • Movement devices - canes, braces, wheeled walkers, etc.
  • Communication devices.
  • In some cases, surgery to correct muscle, bone or tendon problems.

The long-term prognosis for cerebral palsy varies depending on the nature and severity of symptoms. Some children will be able to live on their own with outpatient services, while others may need inpatient or residential care. Depending on the level of care needed, the lifetime cost of cerebral palsy may be millions or even tens of millions of dollars.

Legal options for Pennsylvania cerebral palsy families

Many cases of cerebral palsy occur due to preventable causes, such as birth trauma, hypoxia, hypoglycemia and jaundice. Medical professionals are legally expected to follow standards of care during labor and delivery, and prenatal care in order to minimize the risk to the baby. When doctors do not meet those standards of care, Pennsylvania families have legal rights. We recommend using Help For Your Baby's free consultation service to schedule your appointment with a Pennsylvania birth injury lawyer who can go over your options.