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Cerebral Palsy: Common Causes and Symptoms

The Becker Law Firm, LPA

Cerebral palsy is a general name for any one of a number of neurological disorders that affect body movement, muscle coordination and other nervous system functions such as vision, hearing and learning in those with the conditions. Anomalies in the brain that control these functions result in the symptoms of cerebral palsy, not anything wrong with the body parts themselves.

Some of the different type of cerebral palsy include spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, hypotonic and mixed.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

There is no singular cause of cerebral palsy. Damage to the brain during development in the fetal stage or early infancy may cause cerebral palsy.

Some conditions are known causes of cerebral palsy. Many of the causes occur during pregnancy or the birthing process. One of the leading causes is fetal hypoxia, a condition where the fetus does not get enough oxygen. Fetal hypoxia can happen while the fetus is in the womb or when the baby is being delivered. If the child does not get enough oxygen for an extended period of time, brain tissue does not develop properly or dies.

Other diseases that occur in newborns and infants can also result in cerebral palsy:

  • Encephalitis, meningitis or other brain infections
  • Severe jaundice
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Head trauma during delivery

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Some Ohio medical malpractice lawyers say that doctors often diagnose cerebral palsy in people during infancy or early childhood, as most of the symptoms appear before a child is three years old. The severity of symptoms ranges from mild to severe in those with cerebral palsy and the symptoms can affect either side of the body or both sides. Some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Ataxia – a lack of muscle coordination when trying to do voluntary movements
  • Spasticity – exaggerated reflexes
  • Stiff or tight muscles
  • Abnormalities in walking such as dragging one foot or leg, knees crossing or touching, legs moving in a “scissor” motion or walking on the toes
  • Joint contracture – joints that do not fully open up
  • Weak or paralyzed muscles
  • Abnormal movements of hands, feet, arms or legs such as twisting or jerking
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech, hearing and vision problems
  • Seizures
  • Digestive difficulties such as constipation and vomiting
  • Pain

While researchers are looking for a cure for cerebral palsy, there is no cure for it currently. All that those who suffer from the disease right now can do is attempt to manage the symptoms with treatments such as physical therapy, medication for pain and seizures, surgery to correct muscle problems, vision or hearing enhancement devices, speech assisting technology or wheelchairs.

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