Life Expectancy with Mild Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy ("CP") is a group of disorders appearing in childhood in which the brain is not able to properly control muscle movement, balance and posture. CP is frequently caused when the brain is damaged during childbirth but it can also result from brain damage or development issues after birth. CP primarily causes physical movement disabilities but it can also cause intellectual disabilities. Individual cases of cerebral palsy can range from mild to very severe.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

There are several different types of cerebral palsy: (1) spastic; (2) dyskinetic; and (3) hypotonic.

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy: with spastic CP muscles become excessive rigid and stiff, particularly in the arms and legs. This excessive rigidity makes it difficult to move and control the affected extremities. Sometimes spastic CP only affects one side of the body (hemiparesis). In more serve cases of spastic CP the disability occurs on both sides of the body resulting in disability in all 4 limbs (quadriparesis). With both subtypes, the degree of spasticity can range from mild to very severe. Spastic CP is the most common subtype of cerebral palsy.

  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: Children with the dyskinetic form of cerebral palsy suffer from sudden abnormal muscle movements that are involuntary. The involuntary movements of often occur when the child attempts to move.

  • Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy: The term hypotonia refers to the absence of muscle tone. Children with hypotonic cerebral palsy have little or no muscle tone and a floppy, rag-doll appearance. This can be the most disabling type of cerebral palsy.

Does Cerebral Palsy Decrease a Child's Life Expectancy?

ChildCerebral palsy is not a life threatening condition but it can sometimes result in a shorter life expectancy. Life expectancy refers to the average anticipated survival time of an individual with a certain condition. The life expectancy of children with cerebral palsy differs significantly depending on what type of cerebral palsy they have and the general severity of their CP. Life expectancy for children with CP is also dependent on what other co-existing medical conditions they may have.

Why is Life Expectancy Relevant in a Lawsuit?

If your child's cerebral palsy resulted from medical negligence during childbirth or pregnancy, you may eventually be a plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In a malpractice case, life expectancy is used to calculate the amount of monetary damages that you might be entitled to.

What is the Life Expectancy of Children with Mild Cerebral Palsy?

Children with comparatively mild to moderate cases of cerebral palsy can be expected to live much longer than those with severe CP cases. In fact, children with mild cases of cerebral palsy have expected life spans that are very similar to the general population.

Cerebral palsy is not a progressive condition. CP is caused by a one-time injury to the brain that does not get worse over time. However, there are a number of secondary health conditions associated with CP that can be progressive and have an impact on long term life expectancy. Common examples include seizures, feeding difficulties, vision & hearing impairment and intellectual disabilities. So for example, if a child with cerebral palsy has difficult chewing and swallowing their food and this condition worsens over time, they may have an increased risk of choking or aspirating and then getting sick which will lower life expectancy. However, these types of progressive secondary health conditions are typically associated with more severe cases of cerebral palsy. Children with moderate or mild CP can also have secondary health issues, but nothing that would actually decrease life expectancy.

Getting a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer

Many cases of cerebral palsy are the result of medical malpractice during childbirth or pregnancy. The birth injury lawyers at Miller & Zois regularly handle cerebral palsy cases. We have the expertise and experience necessary to investigate your case and tell you whether you have a valid malpractice claim. Call us at 1.800.553.8082 or submit a request for a free consultation.

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