Cerebral palsy is a disabling health condition affecting millions of people across the United States.
Cerebral palsy is a collective term used for several neurological disorders affecting a person’s posture, balance, muscle control, and movement. Cerebral palsy is diagnosed when an infant is unable or slow to reach the development milestones such as rolling over, crawling, and standing unaided. In some cases, the diagnosis cannot be made until the child starts to walk with an unusual posture or gait. At its core, cerebral palsy is an inability to coordinate and control muscles.
Common Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
- hypotonia or poor muscle tone
- hypertonia or muscle stiffness
- muscle spasticity
These muscle problems lead to a number of other problems such as difficulty standing or sitting. Different babies develop at a different rate and some of them do not get adequate oxygen at the time of birth; however, they still grow into normal adults but with delayed development.
Signs of Cerebral Palsy in the First Year of Life
If the infant has suffered brain damage at the time of birth, the infant may show the following signs and symptoms in the first year of life.
- favoring one side of the body
- poor sucking
- poor feeding
- poor swallowing
- exaggerated startle reflex
- abnormal reflexes
- abnormal posture
- floppiness or decreased muscle tone
- body twitches
- trembling or shaking of one or both limbs
- tight, clenched toes or fists
- head lag or poor head control
- pointing toes
- strabismus (crossed eyes)
- inability to sit up by 8 months
In some severe cases, the child may show some of these signs in the first year after birth. However, most cases of cerebral palsy are diagnosed before the child reaches the age of 2. If the symptoms are mild, the doctors may not be able to reach a definitive diagnosis until another 2-3 years.
Timely Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy
When a doctor, pediatrician, or neurologist notices that a child has developmental delays or other muscular or neurological problems, they may order some diagnostic tests such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging scans, and computed tomography to rule out other conditions that mimic the symptoms of cerebral palsy. If the child has cerebral palsy, the imaging scans will show the location and extent of the brain damage. It is extremely important to make an accurate and timely diagnosis of cerebral palsy so that the child can begin medical treatment, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
Chicago Cerebral Palsy Attorney
In some cases, a child’s cerebral palsy may be a result of a birth injury caused by the negligence of a health care provider. If you think your child’s condition is the result of a doctor’s negligence, contact a Chicago cerebral palsy attorney from Willens Law Offices to learn about your legal options.