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What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Recognizing Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that affect the part of the brain controlling body movement and muscle coordination. It is caused from injury to the brain during fetal development or infancy, and may occur as a result of injury during the birthing process.

A majority of children with cerebral palsy are born with it, although the full range of symptoms may not appear until three years of age. Children with cerebral palsy may have difficulty walking, talking and eating, and may display signs of stiff muscles or difficulty controlling the muscles. Some of the earliest cerebral palsy symptoms include:

  • Infant fails to breathe immediately after delivery
  • Infant seizures
  • Infant looks weak or lacks muscle tone
  • Infant has poor head position

Other signs that an infant has cerebral palsy include developmental delays and tight muscles. A serious sign of concern is if your child is at least one year of age and has not sat up, crawled or attempted to stand up and walk. Some children will also display signs of cognitive impairment, although many children with cerebral palsy are of normal intelligence.

If you notice any, or a combination of these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Early intervention with treatment and therapy options can help your child live a more normal life, despite the disorder.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is caused by injury to the brain shortly before, during or after delivery. In many cases, it is a direct result of errors made during the birthing process. The most common cause is the lack of oxygen, which can occur when doctors do not recognize the signs and take action to reduce fetal distress and other labor and delivery complications. Sadly, many babies would have been born perfectly healthy had these errors not occurred.

Find out more about taking legal action in these medical malpractice cases.

Life With Cerebral Palsy — What to Expect

Children with cerebral palsy may have significant physical developmental delays, and may require special assistance in learning how to speak. Depending on the severity and type of cerebral palsy, they may also require the assistance of walkers, wheelchairs and other special devices to move around. It is normal for these children to require handicap-equipped vans to ease transportation struggles.

Cerebral palsy sufferers often have a difficult time expressing their needs. Thus, it is the responsibility of caregivers to anticipate and proactively provide for these children. This can be a taxing job. Health care professionals and state benefit professionals can help parents and other caregivers get the resources they need to help care for their children. For example, special education and disability services are available to provide structured teaching, and sometimes, transportation to and from rehabilitative therapy sessions.

It is important to note, that children suffering from cerebral palsy can live normal and fulfilling lives. With physical and occupational therapy, they can learn to use their muscles and function as typical members of society. The full range of resources needed to reach this milestone will depend on the child's specific circumstances.

The Birth Injury Team is a subsidiary of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., made up of experienced attorneys and medical professionals. Our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience handling birth injury cases. We are dedicated to helping parents understand their child's condition and guiding them through the process of securing the care and support they need. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients across the United States.


Located in Philadelphia, Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., home of MyPhillyLawyer, serves clients in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and throughout the United States.

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