Treatment for Cerebral Palsy & Legal Compensation for Costs
Although science has not yet found a cure for cerebral palsy, treatment for this permanent disability can help a child live a relatively comfortable life. Treatment will vary depending on the type of cerebral palsy from which a child suffers, as well as specific symptoms. In general, though, the main types of treatment involve therapies, medications, and surgery.
Some types of treatment address the physical effects of cerebral palsy, such as problems with movement and pain. Other types of treatment help a child deal with the emotional and social effects of the condition. These treatments may improve their confidence and independence, allowing them to interact more naturally with others. An effective treatment plan may allow a child to manage their symptoms well enough to handle daily activities, pursue an education, and perform certain types of work with appropriate accommodations. Again, though, each case is unique, and no outcome is guaranteed.
Therapy for Cerebral Palsy
A child who receives therapy for cerebral palsy soon after the condition is diagnosed may improve markedly and avoid the risk of developing secondary conditions. The main types of therapy are physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
Many children with cerebral palsy will undergo physical therapy to address problems with balance, posture, muscle control, strength, and mobility. Physical therapy can help children strengthen their muscles, expand their range of motion, relieve pain, and improve their fitness and flexibility. Sometimes physical therapy helps a child use adaptive equipment that they may need to manage their condition.
Occupational therapy helps a child build independence by learning how to perform daily tasks. Occupational therapy may allow them to function more effectively outside the home, including in school or at work. Meanwhile, speech therapy boosts the communication skills of a child who struggles with understanding language or articulating their thoughts. They may benefit from augmentative communication devices as well.
Less mainstream types of therapy for children with cerebral palsy include:
Behavior therapy: This may help children with cerebral palsy who struggle to manage their thoughts and emotions. A behavioral therapist can provide positive reinforcement while guiding a child through emotional challenges, building their confidence, and shaping more appropriate behaviors.
Aqua therapy: This is similar to physical therapy but uses aerobic and anaerobic exercises in a swimming pool to improve motor functions and muscle tone. Children who cannot walk due to cerebral palsy may especially benefit from aqua therapy.
Massage therapy: This can relieve chronic pain caused by cerebral palsy or its complications, in addition to improving motor functions and muscle tone.
Music therapy: This may help a child strengthen their learning capacity, build language skills, and provide emotional relief from the stress of living with cerebral palsy.
Medications for Cerebral Palsy
A doctor can prescribe medications to address not only symptoms directly arising from cerebral palsy but also symptoms caused by secondary conditions. For example, a child might receive anti-convulsants to address seizures, Botox to relieve muscle tightness, or Baclofen to treat muscle spasms. They also might receive sleeping medication to help them relax and rest.
Some research suggests that medical marijuana can help relieve the symptoms of cerebral palsy and associated conditions. If this option interests parents, they should make sure that they follow any applicable laws at the state and local levels.
Surgeries for Cerebral Palsy
Surgery may carry a risk of serious complications, such as infections or further loss of function. In some cases, though, surgery helps children improve their motor functions. Like other forms of treatment, surgery aims to relieve symptoms and address secondary effects of the condition. It does not provide a cure.
Children with cerebral palsy often undergo surgery on their joints, spine, or limbs. Surgery may correct bone and joint deformities, reduce spasms, and relieve stiffness. Some procedures involve lengthening or cutting muscles or tendons, repositioning bones, or even permanently fusing the bones of a joint or vertebrae in the spinal cord.
A child may need to undergo therapy and rehabilitation after surgery to benefit from the procedure. If this is not possible, a doctor may not recommend surgery.
Compensation for Cerebral Palsy Treatment Costs
Many children with cerebral palsy need a comprehensive treatment plan. Costs can accumulate quickly, and many families cannot bear these financial burdens easily. They may want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against any health care providers who made mistakes that led to cerebral palsy. This condition often results from errors during childbirth.
If parents can prove that a medical provider was at fault, they can recover reimbursement for all the treatment costs related to the cerebral palsy. Proving liability involves showing that a deviation from the professional standard of care caused this condition. Parents should consult a birth injury attorney who can navigate the distinctive rules governing these cases and retain persuasive experts on their behalf. Experts play a key role in medical malpractice lawsuits because they will need to explain the standard of care that applied to the situation, as well as the actions by the defendant that deviated from the standard.
Affidavits of Merit
An expert also may need to provide an affidavit of merit at the start of the litigation. This offers a professional opinion that the defendant likely committed malpractice, based on the facts of the case.