Cerebral Palsy Treatment
Learning your child has cerebral palsy (CP) can be discouraging and may feel a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Millions of parents around the world have given the love and support a child with CP needs to lead a fulfilling life, and you can too.
A cerebral palsy treatment plan can assist you in managing your child’s condition and help your child accomplish their educational and social goals.
The specific treatment regimen best suited to your child will depend on the type and severity of cerebral palsy. Additionally, some CP symptoms present at birth may change as your child continues to grow. For example, an infant with low muscle tone may grow into a toddler with hypertonia (high muscles tone). Your child’s diagnosis is integral to creating an effective care plan.
Getting the Diagnosis
A CP diagnosis is made based on your child’s medical history, physical examination and current symptoms. All children develop at their own pace, so CP is typically not diagnosed until after age 2.
Children with cerebral palsy tend to be developmentally delayed when it comes to gaining motor skills. Missing major milestones is often a tale-tell sign your child may have cerebral palsy. Nonetheless, CP can be confused with certain metabolic disorders, making it doubly important to rule out all possibilities with proper clinical testing.
Once you inform the primary pediatrician of your child’s symptoms, they may send you to see a team of specialists that can include neurologists, geneticists, ophthalmologists, and developmental pediatricians. The resulting diagnosis given by the hospital care team will dictate your child’s treatment modalities.
Creating a Care Plan
The care plan is your tool to ensuring continued positive development throughout your child’s life. Their CP diagnosis and functional classification will dictate the particulars of the care plan. To truly be effective, the care plan should include the following elements:
In addition to motor impairment assessment, your child should have several evaluations over their lifetime to determine his or her requirements. This may include, but is not limited to an individualized education plan, adapted services and other socio-economic needs.
Determine all your child’s daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, grooming, hygiene, housekeeping, food preparation, eating, leisure and mobility needs.
Naturally, your child’s educational goals will change as they grow. Valuable tools in setting these goals can include an individual education plan, adaptive equipment, learning impairment assessment and vision and hearing tests. Children with special needs often start with early intervention programs, such as Head Start, and continue on a structured transition plan updated every 3 years.
Retaining all documents relating to your child’s CP diagnosis will assist you in every aspect of the care plan. Keep detailed records of everything, from the cause of cerebral palsy, to the type and frequency of treatments, throughout their lives.
Many national and community based non-profits were created to provide added support to people with special needs. These include United Way, March of Dimes, Arc of the United States, Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine and Catholic Charities, to name a few.
The ongoing costs of cerebral palsy treatment can be exorbitant to say the least. To help lighten managing an already stressful situation, many government programs are available to assist those with CP. Children’s Health Insurance, Medicaid and Medicare, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), are just some of the services you may be eligible for.
Quality of Life Goals
Each portion of the care plan will include short-term and long-term goals, determined with the help of your support team. Your child’s goals should be adjusted as new opportunities, phases and concerns present themselves.
Remedies for certain health problems, such as drooling, nutrition, bladder dysfunction, gastrointestinal ailments, respiratory issues and pain, are common across all CP type diagnoses. Falling under the category of conventional treatment, the practices below and products have been approved by the medical community. Both long and short term therapy treatments will be necessary at various interval in your child’s life.
Conventional treatment methods combine:
- Physical therapy, which helps children with CP improve gross motor skills, such as balance, flexibility and strength.
- Occupational therapy assists with development of fine motor skills that contribute to daily living needs, such as eating, dressing and hygiene.
- Speech and language therapists will diagnose and treat communication disorders common in children with CP.
- Psychologist and family therapist can help families mange the stress of raising a child with CP. They can also assist in diagnosing learning and intellectual disabilities.
- Vision and hearing issues are common in children with CP and can be addressed with surgery and adaptive devices, like hearing aids.
- Orthotics, such as braces or splints, may be recommended to improve your child’s mobility.
After decades of research, stem cell therapy is on the brink of being considered a conventional CP treatment option. Transplanting stems cells directly into the brain may support or replace deteriorating tissue of a child with CP. Stem cell therapy is currently only available through two institutions in the United States, but many clinics outside the U.S. offer stem cell therapeutic treatment for CP.
Complementary and Alternative Treatment (CAM)
Complementary and alternative treatments include a variety of products and practices generally not accepted in western medicine. These treatments are divided into 6 categories:
- Energy therapies such as reiki and healing touch
- Movement therapies like the Alexander Technique, the Feldenkrais method and Pilates
- Eastern Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine
- Mind-body techniques such as tai chi, yoga and meditation
- Manipulative body-based techniques like chiropractic and osteopathic
- Biological-based treatments found in supplements like Echinacea, omega 3s, and amino acids
How an Attorney Can Help
Cerebral palsy is often the result of a brain injury sustained by a child before or during birth. Such injury may be the result of improper medical responses to fetal distress, or from the negligence of the medical staff. When this happens, the doctor/hospital should be held responsible.
Children with certain severities of CP may never be fully capable of caring for themselves. The expense of ongoing treatment to achieve the best possible quality of life can be quite high. Additionally, any birth injury is traumatic and devastating for the entire family. Parents of a child with a birth injury may be entitled to compensation for the emotional and psychological distress they suffer.
As attorneys experienced in cerebral palsy cases, we can make a case that your child’s birth injury could have been prevented with proper medical attention and help you secure the compensation you deserve. Reach out to our practice today to learn about our success in representing CP cases and your rights under the law.