Ataxic cerebral palsy results from an injury to the cerebellum. This part of the brain controls complex motor functions, especially balance and coordination, and it can affect communication. Sometimes ataxic cerebral palsy arises from an injury to a baby’s head during the delivery process. Other causes include fetal infections or a fetal stroke that triggers a hemorrhage in the brain. Ataxic cerebral palsy also can arise when a fetus receives an inadequate supply of oxygen to the brain before or during childbirth.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Children with ataxic cerebral palsy typically experience problems with balance, fine motor skills, and mobility. For example, they might not be able to hold small objects like pens or utensils, bring their hands together easily, or perform repetitive motions. They may suffer from tremors and may walk with their feet spread further apart than normal or with a wobbly gait. While the majority of symptoms affect the limbs, a child also may develop problems with their vision and speech. They may struggle with depth perception, exhibit slow eye movements, and articulate their thoughts with difficulty.
Doctors must consider diverse factors when diagnosing ataxic cerebral palsy, since there is not a specific test to identify it. Among other things, a doctor usually will look at a child’s reflexes, movement, and muscle tone, as well as broader trends involving their growth, development, and interpersonal behaviors. Testing often includes CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds, as well as blood and urine testing.
Electroencephalography and Electromyography
Two other ways to test for ataxic cerebral palsy are electroencephalography and electromyography. A doctor can use electroencephalography to analyze the electrical activity in a child’s brain. Meanwhile, electromyography can record the electrical activity in a child’s skeletal muscles.
Treatment for Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Unfortunately, science has not yet found a cure for ataxic cerebral palsy. Treatment usually involves managing symptoms through therapy and medication, such as muscle relaxants and other drugs that address tremors. A child also may need assistive devices, including leg braces or walkers. In more unusual cases, a child might be advised to have surgery on their limbs to alleviate their movement issues.
Therapy may consist of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Physical therapy addresses basic problems with movement, balance, and stability. These exercises can help a child keep strength and flexibility in unused muscle groups. Occupational therapy aims to help a child develop the ability to perform daily tasks with a higher degree of independence. If it succeeds, a child may not only improve their strength and coordination but also interact more appropriately with others. Speech therapy can assist a child with communication skills and language development. A child suffering from ataxic cerebral palsy also might benefit from speech therapy if they have developed dysphagia or other conditions that affect swallowing.
Compensation for Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxic cerebral palsy is a serious and unrelenting health condition. A child can expect to deal with symptoms for the rest of their life. Their family may incur substantial medical expenses related to therapy, medications, and procedures. Sometimes ataxic cerebral palsy could not have been prevented, but many cases result from medical mistakes during childbirth. If a health care provider was at fault, a child’s family can sue them for compensation.
Types of Damages
Compensation for ataxic cerebral palsy may include both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages cover relatively objective financial costs, such as medical bills and the costs of future treatment for the child. Non-economic damages can cover more subjective harm, such as the pain and suffering that the child endured.
These cases can involve distinctive procedural rules, and they typically hinge on expert testimony that explains how the condition arose and how it will affect the rest of the child’s life. To pursue the compensation that they need to cope with their child’s condition, a family may want to consult an attorney who is experienced in birth injury cases. Most birth injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that a family will not pay attorney fees unless they get compensation.