What to Expect If Your Child Has Cerebral Palsy

Newborn baby sleeping after receiving Cerebral Palsy Treatments

Cerebral palsy (CP) is an incurable, non-progressive medical condition. Symptoms vary from patient to patient, although all children diagnosed with CP have some degree of movement and posture impairment.

Many cerebral palsy patients also have related conditions, including seizures, vision and hearing problems, scoliosis or spinal changes, and joint issues. Treatments for cerebral palsy center on treating the symptoms of the disorder, resolving problems caused by related conditions and helping a child with CP adapt to life with the disorder.

Who provides treatment for cerebral palsy?

Because cerebral palsy affects multiple body systems and can cause both physical and cognitive impairments, a comprehensive treatment plan should be designed to help a child with CP. A variety of experts are typically involved with treatment, including:

  • Pediatricians
  • Physical therapists
  • Orthopedists
  • Neurologists
  • Speech therapists
  • Mental health professionals
  • Social workers

Together, these professionals can work to reduce symptoms and assist a child with cerebral palsy in achieving his or her full potential.

What is involved in treating cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy treatments focus on relieving pain, relaxing overactive muscles, improving or facilitating communication, and treating related health problems. Treatment options may include:

  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Exercises, biofeedback, prescription drugs or surgery to reduce incontinence
  • Botulinum toxin injections to decrease spasticity and reduce pain
  • Relaxation training, medication, and therapeutic massage to relieve pain
  • Occupational therapy to teach essential life skills
  • Language and speech therapy to improve speech, alleviate swallowing and chewing limitations, and reduce drooling
  • Surgical procedures, including a controversial procedure in which nerves are cut to relieve overactive muscles and twitching
  • Bisphosphonates to increase bone mineral density in patients who are unable to walk
  • Braces to improve motor function
  • Wheelchairs, walkers and other assistive medical devices

Because cerebral palsy is not progressive, a child’s level of impairment can usually be categorized by age 6 using the gross motor functioning classification system (GMFCS). However, treatment of related conditions and CP symptoms will often be adjusted over the course of a person’s life.

Treatment is lifelong for children with CP. The Physician’s Guide to Caring for Children with Disabilities and Chronic Conditions advises that a child’s progress be monitored at least twice annually until the child reaches age 5, and at least annually thereafter.

How will I pay the cost of cerebral palsy treatment?

Health insurance may cover some – but not all – costs associated with treating cerebral palsy. Public funds may be available for adaptive communication devices under the Assistive Technology Act, and CP students are entitled to accommodations to receive public education. Government agencies may provide assistance to parents seeking help with covering the cost of cerebral palsy treatments.

If your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a negligent birth injury or medical error, a medical malpractice lawsuit may provide funds to cover or offset the cost of treating cerebral palsy over the course of your child’s life.

The attorneys at Tinker Law Firm, PLLC are experienced in representing families in Seattle and throughout Washington who are affected by cerebral palsy that was caused by a negligent medical error.

Our lawyers work with doctors, nurses, and other medical experts to review medical records for indicators of negligence that led to cerebral palsy during the labor and delivery process. To talk to our team about your situation, call us today or fill out our online contact form for a free claim evaluation. We’ll let you know how victims of negligent medical errors can protect their rights under Washington law.