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Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is one of the more well-known conditions affecting infants at birth. Our Chicago birth injury lawyers have worked with many families whose children suffer from cerebral palsy. However, while many community members have likely heard of the condition, few are exactly aware of what it means or what effect is has on those afflicted. In reality, cerebral palsy is actually best thought of as a group of disorders which affect the brain and nervous system. The National Center for Biotechnology explains that those living with the condition face a variety of sensory challenges with thinking, seeing, learning, hearing, and moving. Victims suffer a range of problems, from some minor muscle coordination problems to more advanced problems with walking and balancing.

We know that many victims of cerebral palsy develop the problem as a result of an Illinois birth injury. For example, babies born in the breech position may face a situation known as umbilical cord prolapse where the umbilical cord is compressed, cutting off blood flow and oxygen to the brain. However, the condition can also arise in the early stages of infancy from many conditions such as brain infections, bleeding on the brain, severe jaundice and others.

It is often helpful to consider the three main types of cerebral palsy. The first is known as ataxic. This condition is characterized by problems with muscle tones, which often results in shaky or unsteady movements. Second, choreoathetoid cerebral palsy sufferers have trouble with limb, trunk, and face muscles. These muscles often move spontaneously and victims lack the ability to voluntarily control them. Finally, spastic sufferers are the most common victims constituting about seventy percent of those with cerebral palsy. This form of the condition is characterized by stiff and tense muscles that severely limit movements. While these three categories are helpful to logically understand the condition, it is possible for some sufferers to exhibit a mix of symptoms. Also, some medical professionals have added other, far less common categories.

The Illinois cerebral palsy lawyers at our firm know that the medical costs associated with these conditions are high. The day-to-day care required may be extensive, and because most sufferers develop the problems at birth, the costs must be paid over the course of a lifetime. Many patients need skilled nursing care at all moments. Few families have the resources to provide these needed services on their own. Instead, the burden often falls on the taxpayers who provide assistance throughout public healthcare programs. In other cases, when the injury was caused by a birth injury that should have been prevented, families are capable of receiving assistance from the wrongdoer for the costs of the care.

Cerebral palsy currently has no cure. However, it is encouraging that recent advances in medicine have brought positive news for those hoping for medical improvements to aid sufferers. In one case, a four year old girl was able to talk, walk, and interact with others after she received an injection of her own stem cells taken from her umbilical cord shortly after birth. Hopefully those positive trends continue and the lives of those with cerebral palsy can be improved.

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