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What New Parents of a Child with Cerebral Palsy Should Expect

18

April

2017

This child suffers from Cerebral Palsy and his parents will need the help of Chicago Illinois Attorneys.
Parents face immense emotional challenges when their newborn child suffers from any type of disability, birth defect or health complication such as cerebral palsy. They worry about the child’s wellbeing.

These parents face logistical challenges, too. They may have no idea about what behaviors are normal and healthy for their child’s condition and what to expect as the child grows.

If you are the new parents of a child with cerebral palsy, the following is a brief guide about what you should expect and an introduction to helpful resources that are available to you.

How Your Child May Be Affected by Cerebral Palsy Complications

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability among children. Damage to a child’s brain during its development causes the condition, which greatly affects a child’s movement and muscle tone.

Cerebral palsy symptoms vary on a case-by-case basis. Some children display symptoms, while others do not or display symptoms at different levels of severity. For example, some people with cerebral palsy may be able to walk, while others may be confined to a wheelchair.

The complications associated with cerebral palsy include:

  • Cerebral palsy can affect a child’s ability to chew, swallow and suck, making feeding your infant more complicated. Depending on the specifics of the problem, you can pursue any number of interventions and treatment options, from changing the positioning of your child to changing the type of food to seeking feeding therapy intervention. If you have a child with cerebral palsy who has a feeding complication, you should discuss the problem with your child’s doctor immediately.
  • Movement and coordination. One of the most common complications associated with cerebral palsy is impairment of movement and coordination. Specific impairment and severity varies. A child with cerebral palsy may have difficulty with eating, walking, swallowing and performing precise motor functions. The child may also suffer from tremors, seizures and lack of muscle coordination. You can read more about these at the Mayo Clinic
  • Some children who have cerebral palsy suffer from blindness and/or hearing loss. In addition to problems with sight and hearing, intellectual disabilities and mental health complications, including psychiatric conditions, may also present themselves.
  • When a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you must closely monitor the child’s respiratory and heart health. This is because cerebral palsy has the potential to affect the muscles of the heart, lungs and airways, making respiratory complications common. Because children who have cerebral palsy are less likely to be active than other children their age, they may not properly exercise their heart muscles, making air passages more susceptible to infection and creating the potential for heart complications.
  • In adulthood. As a child with cerebral palsy grows into an adult, a caregiver will face greater challenges with managing symptoms. The disease is non-progressive. As a child ages, his or her condition will not worsen. As a child grows in weight and size, however, a parent may find bathing, changing and moving the child to be more difficult. As an adult with cerebral palsy, your child may also experience challenges in the workplace, mental health condition, and premature aging that affects his or her quality of life and increases risks of other problems. For example, an adult with cerebral palsy who can walk may experience premature aging that drains energy and leads to pain, making walking difficult or even increasing the risk of a fall injury.

What to Expect as Your Child Grows Up with Cerebral Palsy

Children who have cerebral palsy often experience delays in reaching motor skill milestones. A parent may not know what to expect in terms of when the baby will sleep through the night on his or her own, start crawling or sit up.

A child’s development is typically split into four categories: emotional growth, cognitive achievements, social interaction and physical progressions/growth. One of the most telling signs of cerebral palsy is that a child fails to reach the standard points of development within each of these four stages by a certain time. While some children develop skills slower than others, failing to reach numerous milestones is indicative of cerebral palsy.

Most children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy by 18 months of age. If your child has cerebral palsy, it can be difficult to say if he or she will achieve certain physical or cognitive abilities, and if so, when.

For example, most children without cerebral palsy will engage in babbling and baby talk, eat soft foods and sit up without support by six months of age. They will roll over, move objects and respond to their name by nine months. By 18 months, they will crawl, stand, begin walking, play and say a couple of dozen words. Whether a child with cerebral palsy will do these things is impossible to say. You should speak with your doctor about what to expect.

Resources for Parents of Children with Cerebral Palsy

If you have a child with cerebral palsy, your first resource and support system should be your child’s doctor. In addition to those in the medical community, there are a number of support groups and other resources for parents, including CPDailyLiving.com.

At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C., we can provide your family with legal support if you believe your child’s cerebral palsy occurred as the result of medical malpractice. If you would like to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case today, please call us now or contact us online.

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