Cerebral Palsy - What other medical disorders are associated with cerebral palsy?

Children with cerebral palsy may have many problems, not all of them related to the brain injury. Although many people who have cerebral palsy have no associated medical disorders at all, sometimes disorders that involve the brain do cause other problems. Some of the more common medical disorders and problems associated with cerebral palsy include:

  • Seizures - Half of all children with cerebral palsy have seizures. Seizures occur when there is abnormal brain activity and they affect people in different ways - some who have seizures may stare, stop moving, lose control of their bodies, twitch, or fall down. When seizures happen over and over, the condition is called epilepsy. They are generally not dangerous and may only last a few minutes. Seizures can take the form of the classic convulsions of tonic-clonic seizures or the less obvious focal (partial seizures), in which the only symptoms may be muscle twitches or mental confusion.
  • Impaired vision or hearing - Children with cerebral palsy often have a condition called strabismus - where the eyes do not line up and focus properly because of differences between the left and right eye muscles. Children with cerebral palsy may also have poor vision or blindness because of damage to the normal field of vision in only one eye, which happens to those whose cerebral palsy affects only one side of the body.  Impaired hearing is also more frequent among those with cerebral palsy that those without.
  • Difficulty with speech - Abnormal muscle tone and poor motor control of the mouth, tongue and face can interfere with speaking skills. The speech problem that most people with cerebral palsy have is called dysarthria. That means it is hard for them to control and coordinate the muscles needed to talk. The speech of children with cerebral palsy may sound very slow and slurred, and their faces may look strained when they are trying to talk. Language-processing problems make communication and self-expression difficult for children with cerebral palsy. 
  • Mental impairment - Another disorder associated with cerebral palsy is mental impairment. It can take the form of a learning disability, where there is a difficulty in processing certain kinds of information in a person of normal to above-normal intelligence; or it may take the form of mental retardation, where a person functions at lower-than-normal intellect.
  • Drooling -  Lack of coordination of the muscles in the face, head, and neck can result in a significant amount of drooling. This poor coordination prevents some children with cerebral palsy from swallowing their own saliva. Certain anticonvulsant medications may contribute to drooling by increasing the amount of saliva.  Drooling can cause severe skin irritations and, because it is considered "socially unacceptable," can cause embarrassment and isolation from their peers.
  • Attention-Span Problems - Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention-deficit disorder (ADD) affects about 20 percent of people with cerebral palsy. Children with ADHD or ADD are often impulsive, easily distracted, restless and overly talkative. They tend to have trouble following directions, taking turns and completing tasks that require sustained concentration and mental effort.
  • Growth problems - Children with moderate cerebral palsy may have a condition called "failure to thrive," where they seem to fall behind in their growth and development. A child with cerebral palsy often does not grow adequately because he is unable to take in enough calories, mainly due to some of the swallowing problems that many children with cerebral palsy have.

Only a careful review of the medical records can support a likely cause of injuries and whether the actions of the delivery team played a part in causing your child's cerebral palsy. Our lawyers and medical advisors who handle birth injury cases have experience investigating medical mistakes and birth injury malpractice and have access to the type of qualified medical experts necessary to review complicated birth injury cases.

If your child suffered a birth injury resulting in cerebral palsy due to improper care during your pregnancy or at the time of delivery, perhaps we can help. Contact one of our medical advisors - all are professionally licensed - they understand the complex issues of labor and delivery that can result in medical conditions like cerebral palsy. Please call our Medical Malpractice group which handles birth injuries that result in cerebral palsy at 1.800.552.7115 or contact us. If you think you have a medical malpractice case within MN, ND, SD, IA or WI, please call 1.800.207.6771.


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Pincus, Dion, Everything You Need to Know About Cerebral Palsy, Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. New York, 2000. 

Pellegrino, Louis. Cerebral Palsy, in Batshaw, M.L. (ed.), Children With Disabilities, Fourth Edition, Baltimore, MD, Paul H. Brooks Publishing Company, 1997, pages 499-528.

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Robins Kaplan LLP Lawyers Handling Cerebral Palsy and other Birth Injury Cases

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