An Overview of Cerebral Palsy Caused by a Birth Injury
A neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to perform fine motor movements, cerebral palsy may be congenital, but it may also be acquired and may develop due to a birth injury. In most cases, the brain damage that results in cerebral palsy is caused by oxygen deprivation due to a prolapsed or kinked umbilical cord, shoulder dystocia, underdeveloped lungs, or other problems before, during, or after birth.
The brain damage that results from one of these birth injuries can result in cerebral palsy, which will lead to partial or complete muscle paralysis in a number of areas on the body. Unfortunately, cerebral palsy is a lifetime disorder, and the disabilities associated with it cannot be reversed. These disabilities may include involuntary and/or uncontrolled movements, loss of balance, and/or difficulty with depth perception and/or walking.
How Does Cerebral Palsy Occur?
It is known that lack of oxygen during or after childbirth can cause brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy, but we also know that cerebral palsy can occur congenitally with no birth injury to point to as a factor. Though it is the most common motor disability that affects children in the world, there is still much to learn about the different types of cerebral palsy, the most commonly known of which include:
- Spastic cerebral palsy – involving stiffness in limbs, as well as problems with movement.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy – involving problems with balance, walking, and depth perception.
- Athetoid cerebral palsy – involving uncontrolled, involuntary muscle movements.
While researchers are still working to better understand the causes of cerebral palsy in its different forms, it’s also important to understand how it can affect your child.
Cerebral Palsy and Your Child
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), approximately one in 323 children across the United States today has cerebral palsy. In addition to this statistic, we also know that:
- Cerebral palsy is more common in boys than girls.
- A full 77% of children who have cerebral palsy are diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy, meaning that their muscles are stiff and movement is difficult and awkward.
- 58% of children with cerebral palsy are able to walk without aid.
- 41% of children with cerebral palsy also have co-occurring epilepsy, while 7% have co-occurring ASD (autism spectrum disorder).
These numbers can tell us a bit more about cerebral palsy and may help with early diagnosis and spotting signs and symptoms before your child can verbally communicate them to you.
Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy at Different Ages
As there are different types of cerebral palsy, there are also different signs and symptoms to look out for. Watching a child’s developmental milestones over the first few months and years of their life can help you see if they may have cerebral palsy or another birth injury affecting them.
From birth to six months, a child with cerebral palsy may exhibit such symptoms as:
- Stiffness or floppiness in various muscles
- Overextending or arching neck and back when held.
- Seeming to constantly push away from being held.
- Their head may fall back when you pick them up.
From six months to one year, a child with cerebral palsy may:
- Not be able to roll over in one or both directions.
- Have difficulty bringing their hands together or up to their mouth.
- Keep one hand balled in a fist while reaching out with the other.
At one year and beyond, you may notice that the child:
- Cannot crawl or has difficulty crawling.
- Cannot or has difficulty standing on their own without support.
What Care and Treatments Are Available for Children with Cerebral Palsy
Depending on the severity and type of your child’s cerebral palsy, they may benefit from ongoing physical therapy and/or occupational therapy. In more severe cases, the child will need to be cared for more fully and may not ever be able to live on their own without assistance.
If your child has developed cerebral palsy due to a birth injury, then you may have a medical malpractice case against your doctor or the medical institution in which you gave birth. Contact us at Birth Injury Center today for a free consultation.