While brain injuries are often thought of as an event that happens later in life from car accidents or slips and falls, they also regularly occur during pregnancy or shortly after birth. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) during these early stages of development may lead to a condition known as cerebral palsy. An overall term for a variety of issues with muscle control and central nervous system disability, cerebral palsy generally leads to a lifetime of expensive medical treatment and therapy.
How Cerebral Palsy Impacts Your Daily Life
Every cerebral palsy case is different, and symptoms may range from relatively mild to extremely severe instances that require around-the-clock care. Even less serious cases often impact a wide range of areas in a patient’s life. Cerebral palsy symptoms may include:
- Behavioral issues
- Deterioration in vision
- Learning disabilities
- Speech/hearing difficulties
- Tremors, shakes, and seizures
- Muscle contraction problems
A broad spectrum of physical difficulties may stem from muscular issues associated with cerebral palsy. For instance, someone with cerebral palsy may have trouble swallowing and experience speech problems, find it difficult to make a fist and hold objects, or suffer from a weakened respiratory or immune system.
If muscle problems affect extremities like the legs, the patient may experience severe mobility problems. Muscle contraction and weakness symptoms may end up necessitating leg braces, an assistive walking device, or even a wheelchair.
Symptoms can also change and new symptoms may appear as a patient grows. That means that even if a child doesn’t experience one specific symptom such as seizures or vision problems, they may still occur years later during adolescence or adulthood.
Cerebral Palsy Causes
Because of how drastically cerebral palsy can affect a person’s life, it's important to understand why this condition occurs and what can be done to mitigate the worst aspects. Cerebral palsy is typically experienced due to an interruption of brain development. The exact cause for individual cases is often unknown because it can be triggered by a number of birth defects or by the mother suffering an infection during pregnancy.
Brain development may also be interrupted due to traumatic brain injury or lack of oxygen during the birthing process. This cause of cerebral palsy may occur due to improper usage of delivery tools, difficulty during the delivery process, or even a blow to the head if the baby is dropped after birth. Brain damage leading to cerebral palsy can also occur due to a buildup of bilirubin in the baby’s bloodstream, which is commonly known as jaundice. That condition is easily treated but is sometimes overlooked due to medical malpractice.
In any of these cases, the life-altering effects of cerebral palsy may have occurred due to negligence on the part of the medical staff during pregnancy or throughout the actual birthing process. Regardless of its specific root cause, cerebral palsy often isn’t diagnosed until several years after birth.
Potential Treatment Options for Cerebral Palsy
Even in milder cases, cerebral palsy will have an impact on daily life from infancy onward. While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, there are long-term therapy options to improve the overall quality of life. These kinds of treatments may be required throughout the patient’s life:
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
- Speech therapy
- Assisted living stays or in-home care visits
In severe cases, surgeries may also be required to deal with symptoms, including orthopedic surgery on affected extremities, gastrointestinal surgery for inserting a feeding tube, and corrective vision surgery.
These constant therapeutic treatments and possible surgical requirements are difficult for both the cerebral palsy patient and family members as bills pile up. If the original traumatic brain injury was caused by negligence, you have a legal right to seek compensation for medical costs, inability to hold down a job, pain and suffering, and ongoing expenses for therapy.