Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive movement disorder due to brain injury in the perinatal or newborn period. They call in non-progressive because the injury does not get worse. There are different types of cerebral palsy and there are many different causes. Most children with CP have floppiness (called “low tone”) in the trunk and neck. They may also have increased tone (spasticity) in the limbs. So cerebral palsy is a broad umbrella term for some disorders affecting a baby’s brain function and body movement. Cerebral palsy is typically the result of an injury to a baby’s brain that occurs in the womb, during delivery of the child, or in the critical hours shortly after the child is born. Often, the mechanism of injury is a lack of oxygen to the child’s brain during delivery. Cerebral palsy is generally not manifest until a child is about eighteen months.
What are Some of the Signs of Cerebral Palsy?
If you have an older child, you are going to know if that child has cerebral palsy. The harder question is whether an infant is showing signs of a potential problem. The injury that causes cerebral palsy usually occurs between birth and two years of age. But many children are not diagnosed until after 18 months of age. The trigger is usually when the child fails to meet developmental milestones. Abnormal muscle tone is the most frequently observed symptom. The child may present as either hypotonic or hypertonic with either decreased or increased resistance to passive movements. Definite hand preference is common before 12 months of age is also cause for concern in combination with other symptoms. Similarly, an asymmetric crawl or failure to crawl can be a sign. The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy vary because there are many different types and levels of disability. The main sign that your child might have cerebral palsy is a delay reaching the motor or movement milestones. If you see any of these signs, talk to your child’s doctor or nurse.
- Poor head control
- Weak or shrill cry
- Lying in awkward positions
- Easily or frequently startled
- Delay in crawling, walking, pushing up on all fours
- Difficulty feeding and sucking
- Delays in motor development
- Strongly favoring of one arm or one side of the body over the other
- Abnormal crawling
- Floppy or stiff movements (overdeveloped or underdeveloped muscles)
- Ataxia (loss of coordination and balance)·
- Athetosis (involuntary slow, writhing movements)
- Spastic paralysis (abnormal stiffness and contraction of muscles)
- Failing to meet expected developmental milestones or failing to suppress obligatory primitive reflexes
- Poor fine motor skills
- Involuntary movements
- Unusual posture
- Slow overall development
- A difficulty with speech, hearing, or vision
- A difficulty with perception or sensation
- Inability to control bladder
- Breathing difficulties
- Behavioral and attention deficit disorders
- Impaired sense of touch or pain
- Swallowing problems
- Dysarthria (abnormal speech patterns)
- Limited range of motion
- Progressive joint contractures
From a testing standpoint, some of the predictors of the ultimate development of cerebral palsy are the head sonographic studies and other imaging procedures. The bad news for concerned parents is that cerebral palsy, even if the condition is present at birth, the signs of cerebral palsy may not be noticed until a child reaches three-years-old and sometimes longer because children develop and mature at different rates. So it is hard to stop worrying if you feel your child is at risk. The good news is lots of kids have some of the symptoms above and turn out to be perfectly normal children that do not have cerebral palsy.
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Cerebral palsy is sometimes, but not always, the result of preventable medical mistakes made by medical doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare professionals. If you suspect your child developed cerebral palsy due to medical malpractice, you may be eligible to seek compensation for the damages you and your child have endured. Call us at 800-553-8082 to see if you have a possible case or you can contact us online and we will get back to you almost instantly with our thoughts.