I have a bouncing, beautiful baby boy. He is two years old, has long curly blond hair and a smile that won’t quit. He also has Cerebral Palsy.
According to Webmd.com, Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a group of motor problems and physical disorders related to a brain injury. The charitable organization March of Dimes estimates that approximately 2-3 children of every 1,000 born in the U.S. develop Cerebral Palsy. Around 800,000 people in the U.S. are currently diagnosed with CP. Most who suffer with CP are born with it, as was the case with my son.
However, some children can acquire CP after birth due to a traumatic brain injury. Car crashes are a leading cause of this type of Cerebral Palsy. As a paralegal for a Sacramento personal injury attorney I have seen a number of children badly injured because of a traumatic car collision. If someone else is at fault such a child has a claim for personal injury. If, God forbid, your child, or another child you know, is ever severely injured in an automobile accident with a brain injury or head trauma, ask the doctor to look for signs of the development of CP. The symptoms to watch for, per the Web site Webmd.com, are discussed below.
These babies and young children may retain newborn reflexes and fail to reach age-appropriate developmental milestones. Parents and caregivers usually are the first to notice that a baby has developmental delays that may be early signs of CP.
When CP is severe, signs are often noticed at birth or shortly thereafter. However, some early signs of severe CP vary according to the specific type of CP present.
Common signs of severe CP that may be noticed shortly after birth include:
• Problems sucking and swallowing.
• A weak or shrill cry.
• Unusual positions. Often the body is either very relaxed and floppy or very stiff. When held, babies may arch their backs and extend their arms and legs. These postures are different from and more extreme than those that sometimes occur in babies with colic.
Some problems related to CP become more evident over time or develop as a child grows. These may include:
• Smaller muscles in affected arms or legs. Nervous system problems prevent movement in affected arms and legs. Inactivity affects muscle growth.
• Abnormal sensations and perceptions. Some people with CP feel pain when touched lightly. Even everyday activities, such as brushing teeth, may hurt. Abnormal sensations can also make it difficult to identify common objects by touch, such as feeling the difference between a soft foam ball and a hard baseball.
• Skin irritation. Drooling is common when facial and throat muscles are affected. Drooling irritates the skin, particularly around the mouth, chin, and chest.
• Dental problems. Children who have difficulty brushing their teeth have increased risk of developing cavities and gum disease (gingivitis). Seizure medications may also contribute toward developing gum disease.
• Accidents. Falls and other accidents are a risk, depending on muscle control, joint stiffness, and general physical strength. In addition, CP-related seizures can cause accidental injuries.
• Infections and long-term illnesses. Severe CP causes problems with eating. If food is inhaled into the lungs, a child’s risk of developing pneumonia increases. Adults are at a higher risk for heart and lung disease.
Some children with CP often also display a group of behavioral symptoms, such as excessive sleepiness, irritability, and little interest in their environment.