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Families celebrate July 4th keeping the special need children in mind


When most people think of July 4th celebrations, fireworks come to mind, but for children with cerebral palsy, that is often not an option. This is because in addition to the impairment of muscle movement and control, cerebral palsy often carries with it an accompanied seizure disorder. It’s estimated that 35 to 50 percent of children with CP also have some level of mental retardation as well as a seizure disorder. They also have difficulties with speech and language. While for the past several years, warnings have existed for those who suffer from seizures to beware of fireworks, there haven’t been many specific cases documented to support the claim. However, one 2011 study revealed that an 8-year-old girl with cerebral palsy experienced a cluster of seizures during a fireworks display. Fortunately, the episode stopped when her eyes were covered and she was removed from the area.

While a perinatal stroke was the cause of CP in the girl in the study, birth injuries account for many instances of cerebral palsy. The trauma of being born, including oxygen deprivation, causes injury to the brain in 20 percent of cases, resulting in CP.and other types of birth injuries.

Safe Alternatives to Fireworks

While families with children who have cerebral palsy often don’t have the option of heading out to see fireworks on the Fourth of July, they can still enjoy other activities, especially during the day. Many communities host midday parades, kite flying or concerts in local parks. Families can also go on picnics or invite friends and relatives to their own backyards.

Staying active is important for any child, but often those with cerebral palsy need extra support from their families and other caregivers in order to make that happen. From the time children are very young, their limbs and muscles should be stretched and exercised in order to maximize their range of motion. Kids with cerebral palsy can hit bumps in the road as they develop due to their brain injuries. Depending on how the condition affects particular individuals, obstacles may present themselves at different stages, but the more they are encouraged to move and use the skills they have, the more they are able to achieve independence.

Adapting to the World

Families coping with birth injuries, including cerebral palsy, sometimes need to get creative as they help their children adapt to the world. Often, they need to spend some money, as well. Because of speech and language problems, many kids with CP use special equipment in order to communicate. Since it is common for those with cerebral palsy to have trouble walking, wheelchairs are often necessary either all or part of the time. Regular childhood developmental skills can sometimes be pushed along with simple adaptations so that children with CP can participate in activities that other kids their age enjoy. For example, they may be able to build a tower with wooden blocks if pieces of Velcro are glued to the blocks.

Although mental retardation is a common side effect of cerebral palsy, at least half of children with the condition have normal or above-average intelligence. Often, their cognitive skills get ahead of their physical development, causing frustration, and incorporating adaptive devices can help bridge that gap. In many cases, children start off doing an activity with an adaptive device, and through practice and determination, they learn to go without it — much like using temporary crutches.

Since cerebral palsy is a non-degenerative brain disorder, further damage to the brain normally does not happen. This means improvement is possible with effort and consistent encouragement. Physical, occupational and speech therapy are all tools that can help, but these, too, can be expensive.

An injury that occurs at birth is different than a birth defect. It is not a matter of heredity. Such injuries happen because something has gone wrong during the birth. Often, they happen because medical professionals have made crucial mistakes either during the actual birthing process, or they have failed to diagnose a condition during pregnancy that puts the child and his or her mother at risk. If the right precautions are taken at the right time, these injuries don’t have to happen. When they do, a birth injury lawyer at the Becker Law Firm may be able to help. If your family is coping with birth injuries, contact us to learn how we may help you get the financial support you need to improve the quality of life for your child.

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