A relatively rare form of cerebral palsy, hypotonic cerebral palsy involves unusually low muscle tone. Children suffering from this condition may struggle with basic movements, such as sitting up, crawling, or walking. Hypotonic cerebral palsy typically arises from harm to the cerebellum. This region of the brain controls complex motor functions, such as balance and coordination, and it can affect communication.
Many cases of hypotonic cerebral palsy result from birth trauma. Sometimes a doctor may use too much force when assisting with labor and delivery, or they may not use tools such as forceps and vacuum extractors correctly. In other cases, inadequate monitoring of the fetus can cause hypotonic cerebral palsy. A doctor may not recognize a need for a C-section or a disruption in the flow of oxygen to a child’s brain. Infections transmitted from the mother to the child also can lead to hypotonic cerebral palsy when they are not properly diagnosed and treated.
Symptoms of Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy
Since this condition shares symptoms with many other developmental conditions, hypotonic cerebral palsy may not be diagnosed for months or years after a child is born. A doctor may suspect this condition when a child has unusually flexible muscles and joints, or cannot control their head. Sometimes facial symptoms such as problems with chewing or swallowing can hint at hypotonic cerebral palsy. In other cases, a child who fails to meet developmental milestones related to movement, or who generally struggles with balance and coordination, may need to be tested for this condition.
Treatment for Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy
Children suffering from hypotonic cerebral palsy may benefit from several forms of therapy. By regularly working with underused muscle groups, physical therapists can help a child improve their balance and coordination. Meanwhile, occupational therapists can assist children suffering from hypotonic cerebral palsy with the demands of everyday life. Through exercises that improve their fine motor skills, children can perform a greater range of daily tasks independently. This can bolster their self-image and their relationships with others.
When hypotonic cerebral palsy causes problems with eating or speaking, a doctor may recommend speech therapy. These exercises can help a child regulate the movement of their jaw muscles. They also may gain confidence from building their communication skills.
In addition to therapy, a child with hypotonic cerebral palsy may use assistive devices to facilitate their movement. Some children may need wheelchairs if they suffer from relatively major symptoms. In other cases, children may use simpler devices like leg braces to reduce their discomfort.
Compensation for Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy
Often, hypotonic cerebral palsy cases are avoidable. The condition may arise when one or more physicians fail to use proper care in assisting with the birth of a child. Some errors leading to hypotonic cerebral palsy involve actions that a competent physician would not have taken, such as excessive force in delivering the child. Other errors involve failures to take actions that a competent physician would have taken, such as monitoring for signs of fetal distress.
In either situation, a family can bring a medical malpractice claim against any health care provider whose improper conduct resulted in hypotonic cerebral palsy. This can alleviate the financial burdens caused by the condition, allowing a family and their child to focus on emotionally coping with the situation. Compensation for cerebral palsy may include reimbursement for therapy, medication, assistive devices, and pain and suffering, among other items. To preserve their rights, a family must bring a claim within the applicable statute of limitations, which provides the time limit for filing a lawsuit. Thus, they should explore their legal options with an attorney as soon as possible.