Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a condition, or group of conditions, that are chronic neurological disorders. Cerebral palsy is not a condition that is "catching" nor is it a disease; rather, it is a condition that people may be born with, or acquire in the first years of their life. The neurological condition may appear as a result of damage to the brain that occurs during fetal development, before, during, or shortly after birth, or during early childhood and can effect a child's movement, posture, and muscle coordination. While cerebral palsy affects an individual's muscle coordination, it does not actually occur in the muscles, but rather is a condition that effects the parts of the brain that control motor function and muscle coordination.

Most children diagnosed with cerebral palsy are born with the condition, the causes of which are unknown; however, it may not be detected in an infant until a few months after birth or in early childhood. Risk factors that may attribute to the development of cerebral palsy before birth may include a mother taking drugs or medication while pregnant; a mother contracting a disease, such as measles, while pregnant; a fetus being deprived of oxygen in the womb; an incompatibility of blood between the fetus and the mother; a low birth weight; or, a premature birth. Some children may develop cerebral palsy as a result of brain injury or lack of oxygen to the brain during birthing process, while others may develop cerebral palsy as a result of a brain injury attributed to a car accident, a fall, or child abuse such as a baby being shaken.

A parent may be able to notice early on that his or her child may not be developing at the same rate as other children. Cerebral palsy commonly causes development delays in children. The baby may have a difficult time learning to roll over, crawl, or sit. The baby may have extremely stiff legs and shake and/or jerk occasionally, or he or she may seem to have no muscle tone whatsoever and not be able to hold his or her own weight. In addition, babies may show signs of favoring one side of the body over the other, which is also symptomatic of cerebral palsy.

Some children do not exhibit signs of having cerebral palsy for months or even years after their birth. Signs may show as a child enters early childhood; occasionally signs are not noticed until children with cerebral palsy enter school. Signs to look for as a child matures include difficulty with fine motor skills that require precision, such as an inability to grasp a pair of scissors easily or to hold a crayon and color. Learning to button a shirt may be extremely challenging, if not impossible, for a child with certain types of cerebral palsy.

A number of the symptoms of cerebral palsy may be explained by other issues, such as a poor household environment, lack of interaction with adults, or any of a number of childhood conditions that can delay development. There are, however, some extremely worrying signs that parents need to be aware of especially if they are worried about their child having cerebral palsy.

If a child has a difficult time moving from one position to another or cannot learn to stand on his or her own, a doctor should be consulted. A child with cerebral palsy would have a hard time with these tasks because of the weakened or too-stiff muscles that are often common with cerebral palsy. Frequent shaking is also an indicator that something may be seriously wrong; seizures are also key indicators that a child may have a condition like cerebral palsy.

It is essential for parents who believe their child may have cerebral palsy to have them assessed by a doctor as soon as possible. While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, there are many different forms of treatment, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medication, and/or surgery, that can help both the child and the parents lead more satisfying lives. The sooner therapeutic treatment can begin, the better chance there is of slowing, and possibly improving, the condition before it becomes more difficult to manage.

There are a variety of causes that may lead to the development of cerebral palsy. While instances of injuries during the birthing process causing cerebral palsy make up a small percentage of cerebral palsy cases, they do occur. If a parent suspects that their child developed cerebral palsy as the result of a birthing injury that could have been avoided, or was the result of medical malpractice, they should contact an experienced birth injury lawyer. Attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice, and specifically birth related injuries, will be able to assist parents of children who have cerebral palsy in filing a formidable case. Money that is received in compensation for an injury obtained would help pay for the expensive treatments and medication a child with cerebral palsy may need.

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