Cerebral palsy (CP) is a lifelong condition, and children who are born with it may require lifelong care. If your child was born with CP, it’s important to identify the condition early and to seek out the appropriate medical care for them. Children with the condition can enjoy much better outcomes and a higher quality of life when they have early intervention. Knowing the steps to take can help you to better prepare your family to handle the work that lies ahead.
Identifying cerebral palsy
The first step in caring for a child with cerebral palsy is to identify that they have it. Brain scans such as MRIs and cranial ultrasounds can examine the brain and rule out other injuries that could be causing their symptoms. An electroencephalogram (EEG) can also be ordered by a doctor to rule out epilepsy. While children are typically born with CP, they often receive their diagnosis several months after they are born.
Children will also be subjected to a variety of other tests to rule out other conditions and to establish the severity of their CP. These tests can be conducted on the following:
- Skeletal system
- Nervous system
- Physical development
Birth injuries and cerebral palsy
Some cases of cerebral palsy are associated with birth injuries. If your child suffered an injury during birth, your family may be able to brain a settlement or win a trial to receive monetary compensation from your care providers. This can help to offset the costs of medical care as well as your child’s lost earning power. For more information about diagnosis and treatment, follow this link.
Treatment for cerebral palsy
Once you’ve identified cerebral palsy in your child, you can then seek out the appropriate treatment for them. Your child will likely need a mixture of general and specialist care from the following medical professionals:
- Family practitioner
- Speech therapist
- Physical therapist
Physical rehabilitation can help children with CP build strength and endurance and better cope with their overall condition. Some children can gain significant amounts of mobility with physical therapy and can eventually walk or even run on their own. Even for those who can’t, physical therapy can help them gain better control of their muscles and alleviate some of the worst symptoms of CP.
Speech therapy can help children gain better control of their ability to speak, which can be compromised by CP. Children may have trouble learning how to move the muscles in their face or controlling their breath to facilitate speech. A therapist can show them ways to do so. A speech therapist can also identify potential limits for a child and recommend ways to work around it, such as with assistive devices for people with speech disorders. .
Children facing CP can face intense emotional pressures, and an emotional therapist can help them work through their feelings. Children may grow frustrated with CP, and a therapist can direct their energies toward productive ends to live fuller lives. They can help a child grow and develop to live a full life despite their condition.
Treatment for CP will play out over your child’s life if they are diagnosed with the condition. Starting early can give them the best potential for successful outcomes. However, medical care over the long-term can be a significant added expense for your family.
If your child’s CP occurred due to a birth injury, being awarded a settlement or winning a case against your child’s medical providers may be able to help to offset many of these costs. Recoverable damages in a birth injury case may include The cost of your child’s past and future medical treatment, physical, occupational, or other types of therapies, surgeries, assistive devices, and more.
Don’t forget to have fun
Like any other child, kids with cerebral palsy want to play and have fun, and there are plenty of ways to achieve this.
Many children with cerebral palsy enjoy art and music. Finger painting, playing with clay, singing songs, dancing, or even clapping your hands to the rhythm of the music can all be done by most kids with CP. These activities can improve your child’s fine motor skills, improve their mobility, and give you a chance to bond with each other.
Go to the park
There was a time when there wouldn’t have been much for a disabled child to do in a playground, but thankfully society is much more inclusive now. There are disabled-accessible parks in many communities with equipment that is meant for children of different levels of ability, including kids in wheelchairs.
Enjoy the fresh air
If you have a national forest or other natural area nearby that has wheelchair-accessible trails, you can spend a morning or an afternoon enjoying nature with your child. Talk about the birds, plants, and animals you see along the way. If you have a jogger wheelchair, you may want to consider making a run in a natural setting a regular part of your routine.
You and your child can both relax your minds and stretch your bodies with a yoga routine that is adapted for cerebral palsy. Yoga is a great activity for CP because it boosts flexibility while improving muscle tone. It can also help relieve the chronic pain that can be associated with spasticity. If your child needs to learn to relax and let go when they’re stiff, yoga is for you.
Go for a swim
For fun you can enroll your child in an aqua therapy program, or you can take them to the community pool and enjoy the water with them yourself. Kids with CP may love the water because it makes them more buoyant and allows their muscles to relax. Swimming may also boost your child’s self-esteem and help them to relax their mind.
A diagnosis of cerebral palsy can come as a shock to parents, but in most cases it doesn’t mean your child is going to be confined to a bed or a wheelchair for every minute of their existence. There are plenty of things you can do for a child with CP to help them with mobility and socialization and enrich their lives .
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.