Does it seem that your child is behind in the expected developmental stages? Did you experience a traumatic pregnancy or deliver prematurely and suspect your child may have been affected as a result?
Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is often caused by damage occurring to the immature, developing brain, often before birth. This disorder is the number-one motor disability in the United States. About 10,000 babies (1 in 323 children) are born with the condition every year.
How can you tell if your child is showing signs of cerebral palsy? The condition shows up in different ways and has different risk factors involved. Read on to learn the cerebral palsy symptoms to look for, if you suspect your child is suffering.
Identify Cerebral Palsy Symptoms Early
It depends on the type of cerebral palsy the child has that determines how early symptoms begin showing up. You may not begin to notice signs of cerebral palsy until your child is about 3 to 5 years old. In this case, it is likely a mild case of the condition. Moderate to severe cases, however, are usually recognize by the time the child is two years old.
Moderate to severe cases, however, are usually recognize by the time the child is two years old.
The earlier the child can be diagnosed the better. It is important that the child begins therapy and treatment as soon as possible. The handicaps for a child with cerebral palsy may be minimized with early diagnosis, treatment, and therapy.
It may be easier for the child to reach his or her potential in cognitive, physical, social and emotional development by beginning therapeutic and rehabilitative programs early on. Also, if your child is diagnosed at a younger age, your family will be able to begin adjusting to a life with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Since your child is so young, he or she likely will not be able to effectively communicate his or her cerebral palsy symptoms. Recognizing the physical signs is the best way for you to recognize if your child has the condition. The following are signs of cerebral palsy:
Impairment of coordination and control
A child with cerebral palsy symptoms will likely experience different types of impaired muscle control in opposite limbs, affecting coordination and control in the limbs. You may notice impaired coordination with the following signs:
- Spastic movements
- Uncontrolled, writhing movements
- Difficulty with tasks such as writing, tying shoes and brushing teeth
- Control impairments affecting the way a child walks
- Walking with the toes angled inward or outward
Improper muscle tone
Children with the proper muscle tone can bend and contract their limbs without difficulty. If your child is unable to sit, stand or maintain posture without assistance, it may mean that the child’s muscles are not coordinating together.
Improper muscle tone comes in different forms of impairment, including:
- Hypotonia: Decreased muscle tone or tension
- Hypertonia: Increased muscle tone or tension
- Dystonia: Fluctuating muscle tone or tension
- Mixed: Some limbs are hypotonic while others are hypertonic
- Muscle spasms
- Fixed joints
Babies show certain primitive reflexes at birth or shortly after. These primitive reflexes disappear as the child develops. When these specific reflexes do not fade away, or if the child doesn’t develop other reflexes as he or she grows, this can be a sign of cerebral palsy.
Another possible indication is when the child shows early hand preference. If your child shows hand preference between 6 and 18 months, this may be cause for concern.
Posture and balance are largely affected in children with cerebral palsy. You may see signs as your infant begins sitting up and learning to move.
Babies with symmetrical posture will normally sit with both legs in front. When the legs are bent, they will mirror each other. If your child’s limbs do not mirror one another when he or she sits, this is known as asymmetrical posture.
Correct posture typically appears as a baby develops. If you notice asymmetrical posture, your child may be impaired.
You may begin noticing signs of impaired balance as your child learns to sit, crawl or walk. If your child cannot sit without support, it may be a sign of cerebral palsy. When your child is sitting, look for the following signs:
- Requiring both hands for support
- Difficulty balancing without using hands for support
- Swaying when standing
- Unsteady when walking
- Difficulty making quick movements
Impaired or delayed gross motor function
If your child has abnormal muscle tone, his or her gross motor function may also be impaired. Proper muscle tone is needed to allow proper flexion and movement.
When your child’s gross motor function is impaired, he or she likely has limited capability to walk, run, jump and maintain balance. It is important to note whether your child’s gross motor functions are impaired or if they are delayed in the predictable stages of development.
Impaired or delayed fine motor function
Fine motor control includes mental and physical activities and skills that are learned. If you notice that your child has more difficulty as he or she nears completion of a task, this is a sign of impaired or delayed fine motor skills. Examples of fine motor function development include:
- Grasping small objects
- Holding objects between the thumb and forefinger
- Setting objects down gently
- Using crayons
Impaired oral motor function
A common sign of cerebral palsy is impaired oral motor function, the difficulty to use the lips, tongue, and jaw. Signs that oral motor function is impaired include difficulty with speaking, swallowing, feeding and chewing.
Because you need proper intellectual and physical development in order to speak, affected speech is a major sign of cerebral palsy.
If you suspect your child may have cerebral palsy, don’t hesitate to get a diagnosis. Then, contact a cerebral palsy lawyer at the Law Offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein. You may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim.
A successful medical malpractice case can result in funds to help your family afford treatment, therapy and lifestyle adjustment resources.
We will evaluate your case to determine if you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and other damages. Call 888-392-3104 to schedule a consultation.