The Various Effects of Cerebral Palsy


Cerebral palsy (CP) broadly describes a group of brain disorders that are caused by injury to the brain or abnormal brain development occurring during fetal growth, labor and delivery, or during the first years of the child’s life. Some cases of CP have unknown causes, others, however, have been traced to premature birth, very low birth weight, blood clotting abnormalities in the placenta during pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory infections, fetal stroke, inflammation of the umbilical cord, vaginal bleeding, lack of oxygen supply to the brain, trauma to the head at the time of labor and delivery, brain damage due to congenital causes, head injury (due to vehicular accident, fall or child abuse), lack of proper care for the pregnant woman, severe cases of jaundice, use of illegal drugs by the pregnant woman, and so forth. What is saddening, however, is the fact that behind all these causes is the high possibility of negligence or carelessness on the part of the doctor, medical staff of the hospital itself.

Cerebral palsy affects areas of the brain responsible in controlling muscle tone, motor skills, balance and coordination, and mental abilities, resulting to abnormal muscle tone and reflexes, problems with balance and movement, inadequate muscle growth, bone deformities, misaligned joints, excessive fatigue with movement and walking, difficulties in breathing, speech and language, feeding and swallowing disorders, cognitive impairment or learning disabilities, and many others.

The severity of the effects of CP depends on the location and extent of the damage to the child’s brain. Thus, while others may only experience difficulty in movement, others are totally unable to control both legs, both arms, or all four limbs. Likewise, while some children may still possess normal intelligence, others suffer from learning impairment.

Cerebral palsy has been classified into four categories, each with specific effects on the child. These categories are Spastic, Athetoid (or dyskinetic), Ataxic, and Mixed.

  1. Spastic – this is the most common form of cerebral palsy and it affects about 70 to 80 percent of all CP patients. Spastic cerebral palsy disrupts normal growth, causes abnormal movements, limits one’s ability to stretch his or her muscles during movement, and causes malformations in muscle and joint development. Spastic CP has five different forms:
    • Spastic diplegia – this usually affects both legs more than the arms.
    • Spastic quadriplegia –all four limbs are affected by this type of CP, and it also happens to be the most severe and incapacitating form of spastic cerebral palsy.
    • Spastic hemiplegia –the limbs on one side of the body are the ones affected.
    • Spastic monoplegia – this very rare case of Spastic CP affects only one limb (any one arm or leg).
    • Spastic triplegia – instead of just one limb, three are, rather, affected. This is another very rare case of Spastic CP.
  2. Athetoid cerebral palsy or dyskinetic cerebral palsy – this form of cerebral palsy involves slow, uncontrolled, writhing hand, arm or leg movements, as well as involuntary facial grimaces and drooling. Athetoid cerebral palsy causes difficulty in sitting up straight, walking, speaking, grasping objects, and performing basic actions, including combing, eating and swallowing. Mental ability is usually not affected, though, so that children with Athetoid CP may even have above average intelligence.
  3. Ataxic cerebral palsy – this causes in patients tremors or shaky movements, and difficulty in maintaining balance. Ataxic movements are characterized by clumsiness, instability, jerkiness and imprecision.
  4. Mixed cerebral palsy – this refers to the combination of any two forms of cerebral palsy; the most common, however, is the combination of spastic and athetoid.

For a Chicago cerebral palsy lawyer, the compensation that the law allows CP victims to receive from the liable party (assuming that CP is a result of someone’s carelessness or act of negligence) is very important as this can help assure the provision of medical treatment needed by the CP victim. To be able to receive the maximum amount of compensation, however, it will require the best arguments and defense from a highly knowledgeable and skilled cerebral palsy lawyer.

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