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Cerebral Palsy and Child Development

Signs and Development of a Child With Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is often the result of serious brain trauma during pregnancy or the birthing process. Sadly, cerebral palsy is, in many cases, preventable.

It's important to understand the signs of cerebral palsy and how it affects a child's development for parents who believe their child may have this neurological disorder. A child with cerebral palsy will have unique needs and medical treatment options as he or she ages.

There are varying degrees and types of cerebral palsy, which each affect a child differently, but the common factor is that cerebral palsy leads to diminished motor skills and muscle movement. With motor skills, muscle movement, balance and other functions controlled by different parts of the brain, the symptoms may also depend on the location of the brain injury.

What to Expect as a Child Ages With Cerebral Palsy

In most cases, a child with cerebral palsy will begin to demonstrate signs shortly after birth. The following is a brief explanation of what to expect as the child ages, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Child 0 to 2 months old: An infant of this age may have difficulty keeping his or her head up. A child with cerebral palsy may also have stiff legs or legs that stay straight and scissor together frequently.
  • Child 2 to 6 months old: Child development in these months may be limited in range of motion. A child may have trouble holding his or her head up and may reach for items with only one hand while fisting the other hand.
  • Child 6 months to 2 years old: Motor skills and movement during these months will be distinct from the development of other children who do not have cerebral palsy. Noticeable signs include an inability to crawl, walk, stand or sit. Toys with wheels may present a challenge for a child with cerebral palsy.
  • Child 2 to 5 years old: Depending on the severity of the cerebral palsy, a child in this age group may continue to struggle with activities such as walking, running, sitting, writing and biking. Educational development and learning activities may also be affected by the illness at this age.
  • Child greater than 5 years old: With treatment and physical therapy, it is possible that a child with cerebral palsy will demonstrate diminished developmental difficulties. A child may have symptoms that appear only as clumsiness or awkwardness. A child with severe cerebral palsy, however, may never walk, run, eat or play without assistance. Depending on the type of cerebral palsy, a child may continue to struggle with motor impairments such as developmental delay, reading or comprehension disorders and other learning disabilities. However, many children with cerebral palsy do not experience cognitive impairment.

If at any time you recognize these symptoms and have questions about whether your child may have cerebral palsy or questions about your child's development after a cerebral palsy diagnosis, contact your doctor. An early diagnosis can lead to greater options for treatment and therapy to allow your child to live a normal and happy life.

Treatment and Rehab Options After a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

Parents of a child with cerebral palsy have a lot of options, even though it is not curable. After a cerebral palsy diagnosis, it's likely that the doctor may prescribe any of the following:

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical therapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy
  • Clinical trials and other experimental treatment
  • Prescription medicine
  • Surgery
  • Long-term care
  • Assistance devices such as wheelchairs, crutches and braces

These cerebral palsy rehabilitation resources may improve limb function, muscle movement and control, motor skills and interpersonal skills. These options are often expensive and parents raising a child with a birth injury may want to consider legal action to recoup compensation for their medical expenses.

Learn More About Options After a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

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.

To discuss your child's needs with The Birth Injury Team and to learn about your options for taking legal action, contact our office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We serve clients nationwide.


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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