Treating the Incurable: Helping Those Inflicted With Cerebral Palsy

You were in labor for nearly 20 hours when it happened—the doctor told you that your daughter was in distress, and that he needed to deliver her as soon as possible. However, instead of performing a cesarean (C-section), he told you that you had to push as hard and quickly as possible to get her out. Unfortunately, after about five minutes of pushing, he informed you that your baby’s head was stuck in the birth canal. Since she was still experiencing distress, he decided to use forceps to pull her out. After another three minutes, your daughter was finally out—but she wasn’t crying.

You started to panic as the doctor removed the umbilical cord from around her neck, rushed her over to a table, and began giving her chest compressions and oxygen. A heart stopping minute passed and then you heard her tiny whimpers, which then grew to satisfying screams. That day was simultaneously the worst and best day of your life. You could finally hold your baby girl in your arms, but the delivery was absolutely horrific.

The day after her birth, you noticed several dark bruises on her skull. You called the hospital and your doctor told you that since he used forceps, slight bruising was normal. After a few more days the bruises lightened, so you didn’t really think about them again. That was three months ago, and ever since you’ve noticed that your baby girl has periods of unexplained shaking and motor issues.

At your last appointment you discussed these episodes with her pediatrician, as well as the “difficulties” surrounding her birth. After what seemed to be dozens of tests, he informed you that your three-month-old ray of sunshine has all the signs of cerebral palsy.

Your world stopped spinning. Cerebral palsy? How? Why?

He proceeded to explain that due to the stress of her birth, the amount of time she spent without oxygen, and even the forceps bruising could all have contributed to the brain damage that lead to the disorders appearance. Through convulsive sobbing and burying your face in your husband’s chest, you heard him say that there isn’t a known cure, but there are treatments to help her overcome complications and cognitive disabilities. After that you completely blanked out.

The next thing you remember is sitting on your couch staring at dozens of pamphlets, wondering what you were going to do next to protect your child.

CP Treatment Options

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), although there is no known cure for cerebral palsy (CP), many children go on to enjoy near-normal adult lives when their disabilities are properly managed. The earlier the disorder is diagnosed and treatment begins, the better chance your child has of learning control, overcoming developmental disabilities, and discovering new ways to work with her disability to accomplish daily goals and tasks.

Since there are several different types of CP, all affecting different motor functions, treatments can vary depending on severity and symptoms. Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal therapy that works for every patient. However, once the diagnosis is made and the type of CP is determined, your pediatrician should work with you and your child to identify specific impairments and needs. Once these needs are identified, an appropriate plan of therapies, treatments, and care regimens can be created to help her live her life to the fullest.

This plan can include:

  • Physical therapy (PT). PT is a cornerstone of CP treatment. Through specifically designed exercises your child will strengthen her muscles, improve balance, and learn how to control her movements.
  • Occupational therapy (OT). OT focuses on optimizing upper body function, improving posture, and making the most of your child’s mobility. Through OT, your child will learn how to perform daily activities with control and confidence.
  • Recreation therapy (RT). RT encourages creativity and participation in extracurricular activities such as artistic expression, sports, and other cognitive improvement and recreational activities. RT has been known to improve speech, self-esteem, and emotional well-being.
  • Speech and language therapy. Language therapy can help improve your child’s ability to communicate.
  • Assistive devices. Computers, computer software, voice synthesizers, picture books, orthotic devices, braces, and wheelchairs can all be used to make daily life less difficult for your child, while also improving their mobility and cognitive function.
  • Surgery. Sometimes surgery can help relieve tension in rigid muscles and overactive nerves. Although this isn’t a cure-all, it can help ease pain and spasticity.
  • Stem cell therapy. Stem cells therapy is being investigated as a treatment for cerebral palsy, but research is in the early stages and large-scale clinical trials are needed to determine whether stem cells can regrow damaged nerves and brain tissue, while also remaining safe for the patient.

Getting the Treatment Your Child Deserves

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder that could wind up costing you and your child hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of her lifetime. Don’t allow a doctor’s mistake to put your and your child’s financial future at stake. Isn’t it enough that he altered your baby’s physical future? Contact us today for a free consultation about whether you're entitled to malpractice damages or treatment compensation.