Cerebral Palsy: Permanent or Treatable?
Several thousand children in the United States are born each year with cerebral palsy (CP), a form of birth injury that can cause both mental and physical disabilities. In fact, no other childhood motor disability is diagnosed more frequently than cerebral palsy. To make matters worse, CP is often associated with a medical provider’s mistakes, usually during the birthing process.
Will all of the children with cerebral palsy need to live with the doctor’s mistake for their entire lives? Or, can cerebral palsy be treated? Whether or not CP symptoms can be alleviated depends largely on what sort of disabilities a child’s CP causes.
Potential Treatments for Cerebral Palsy
There are a few theories about what causes cerebral palsy. There is evidence that suggests it is caused by oxygen deprivation before, during, or after birth. Physical harm to a newborn’s brain may also cause CP. Maternal infections are also suspected to be a source of the birth injury.
In any circumstance, the severity of the symptoms caused by cerebral palsy will determine how it can be treated. If CP causes physical disability, then treatments will be more hopeful. However, correcting or alleviating any mental disabilities caused by CP will be much more difficult.
Possible ways to lessen the symptoms of cerebral palsy include:
- Medication: In mild to moderate cases, cerebral palsy may be most noticeable as a loss of muscle control that manifests as spasms and contractions. Prescription medications designed to alleviate skeletomuscular complications could help reduce the frequency of muscle spasms in a cerebral palsy patient.
- Motor and muscle support: If a child is struggling to learn motor control due to cerebral palsy, specialized support devices can help. Braces and splints can provide much-needed stability in arms and legs. Motorized scooters and wheelchairs can provide mobility where it otherwise would have been impossible for a child to get around.
- Physical therapy: Different methods of physical therapy can help with the skeletomuscular complications of cerebral palsy. For example, a child may be enrolled in weekly therapy sessions that focus on learning how to walk if their legs are effectively crippled. Or, a child may undergo focused therapy that promotes dexterous control and hand strength if they’ve had difficulty picking up items.
- Speech therapy: Mental disabilities caused by cerebral palsy are commonly accompanied by speech impediments. Specialized speech therapy sessions can be crucial for helping a child learn how to speak and communicate, even if only in limited amounts.
- Surgical methods: Although rare, a doctor may recommend surgery to try to correct severe deformities caused by cerebral palsy. Since surgery is intensive and could be too much for a young child, it is often only recommended to cerebral palsy patients who are in their teen years or older.
Specialized Treatments are Rarely Inexpensive
While there might be a number of treatments to try to alleviate the symptoms of cerebral palsy, there is a common thread among them: cost. Specialized treatment methods, surgeries, hospitalizations, and rehabilitative therapies can all be steeply expensive. By some estimates, the lifetime cost to care for a child with CP will be greater than $1 million, with the amount increasing if the child has a severe mental disability as well as a physical disability.
Due to the excessively high costs to treat cerebral palsy, it is important to be mindful when filing a lawsuit against the medical providers that may have caused a child’s CP. Parents who are considering their legal options should only work with a birth injury attorney who understands the true extent of harm that cerebral palsy has caused and the costs it incurs. It is not uncommon for a cerebral palsy claim to demand seven-figures from the defendant.
Habbas & Associates in San Jose offers experienced legal representation to parents who need to file a cerebral palsy lawsuit in the Bay Area. We have secured millions of dollars for clients through successful settlements and verdicts. Contact us at (888) 387-4053 to learn more.