While the childbirth experience can be stressful for many parents, for some families, the event is associated with a trauma that ultimately leads to their child being diagnosed with cerebral palsy. When this occurs, many parents feel lost as to what to do. One way of coping while also helping your child is to adopt a care plan.
A care plan is a road map with the aim of improving your child’s physical, developmental, and psychological development as he grows while living with cerebral palsy. A care plan is put together by the parents with the help and input of several professionals who work to assess a child’s abilities and limitations, decided upon treatments, and come up with accommodations that will improve what your child is capable of doing.
6 Components of a Care Plan for Cerebral Palsy
What exactly is a care plan? While every child’s journey with cerebral palsy is different, there are six common aspects of a care plan that should be considered:
Assemble a care team to manage your child’s case. When a child has cerebral palsy, there are many different individuals and organizations that can be of assistance. It is crucial as the parent that you understand what types of support systems are available. You may find that your care plan team consists of health care providers in the home, medical care providers, people who can help you navigate government services, people who can help you navigate the education process, people affiliated with various community support teams, attorneys, counselors, and others.
Obtain a formal diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Obtaining a formal diagnosis of cerebral palsy is not an overnight process. You must work closely with your child’s primary care physician in order to obtain the diagnosis, determine the cause of the condition, and establish the form of cerebral palsy. Your child’s doctor will also assess whether your child has associative conditions.
Obtain an evaluation to understand the extent, location, and severity of your child’s motor impairment. Once your child has a formal diagnosis of cerebral palsy, the next step is to obtain an evaluation from an orthopedic surgeon. In addition, providers will evaluate your child’s mobility and motor skills, any associated conditions or co-mitigating factors, how he handles activities of daily living, the family dynamics at home, and his overall educational performance.
Set goals for your child’s care. After your child has been thoroughly evaluated, the care team can help establish health care goals. Different providers will establish different sets of goals. Some of these goals may be short term, while others are long term. The type of goals may range from educational goals set by school administrators to mobility goals set by the orthopedic surgeon.
Categorize your child’s care goals in accordance with care at home, medical care, government assistance, special education, community support and funding, professional services, and transitioning your child into adulthood. It is important to note that “professional services” should include the necessary legal services associated with your child’s condition. Many children with cerebral palsy develop this condition as a result of some form of negligence on the part of the health care providers involved with their birth. In these cases, the child and their family may be entitled to compensation. It is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can assist your family through this process.
Establish and maintain an ongoing record keeping system. Unfortunately for unknowing parents, medical professionals are only required to keep medical records for a predetermined number of years. Once that timeframe has passed, records can either stored or destroyed. To avoid any issues, we recommend that you keep an at home file of your child’s records. These records are crucial when it comes to setting your child’s goals, evaluating his progress, communicating with other health care providers, and applying for financial aid. These records are also vital in the event that something should happen to you and another caregiver needs to step in as the guardian of your child. He or she will not have had the benefit of being present since the beginning of your child’s health care journey and may need to rely on these records accordingly.
The good news for parents of children with cerebral palsy is that most will go on to live long and happy lives. Establishing a care plan can provide you with a guideline as you work to help your child create the best life possible.
If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after a birth injury, it is important to take action in order to protect your family’s legal rights. We are here to help. We encourage you to check out our many case results to learn more.