Unfortunately, there remains little to be done to “cure” cerebral palsy or reverse any of the cognitive or developmental challenges faced by those who develop the condition. While access to proper therapy and equipment can make a big difference in terms of quality of life and societal functioning, they are a far cry from actual reversals of the birth injury.
However, many families who have youngsters with cerebral palsy continue to hold out hope that at some point down the road medical advances will change all of that and open the door to possible cures or significant improvement. There have already been some hints at how they might develop, and one promising area involves new surgeries that can significantly improve the mobility of many children with cerebral palsy.
Another area receiving significant attention relates to “cord blood.” For example, a KVOA story shared information on a local family whose two year old was born with cerebral palsy which causes significant feeding and breathing issues. As all families in similar situations understand, these issues present severe challenges–it is never easy to raise a child and ensure they reach their full potential, especially with these added medical challenges.
Cord blood may offer hope for a better future. While still in the early trial phases, the idea is that treatment with the stem cells found in that cord blood may prove the answer to providing long-term solutions for the condition. The toddler in this case was recently enrolled in one unique trial involving 1,000 other children with cerebral palsy. He is currently undergoing treatments. His mother explained that she is “hoping he’ll be able to lead a life where he can do things on his own and he’s not going to need my constant care.”
Newborn Possibilities Program
This particular trial is supported by the Newborn Possibilities Program. According to the program website, the goal of the nonprofit group is to explore various ways that a newborn’s own cord blood can be used to help restore function by regenerating damaged tissues via stem cells. This mission is accomplished by the entity providing grants to medical institutions that are conducting trials in this area. Beyond cerebral palsy, there is hope that stem cells found in cord blood can help in a range of areas, including diabetes, traumatic brain injury, and hearing loss.
Cerebral Palsy & The Law
It goes without saying that all of us hope that these treatment options advance and more choices are provided for families with children facing cerebral palsy and other birth injuries. As it stands right now, beyond specialized equipment to help adapt to challenges, the only tool for families is physical therapy to build strength and maximize mobility.
Where possible legal accountability comes into play in these situations is when the injury itself is connected to medical negligence. In those situations where a medical team does not act appropriately during a birth–often making mistakes in the middle of the process–then they may be accountable for the subsequent harm. That accountability may mean providing support so that equipment and therapy are available. If cord blood therapies prove successful, that might also mean that down the road those therapies might be fit into damage awards in birth injury lawsuits.
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