Long-Term Effects of Cerebral Palsy

The long-term effects of cerebral palsy can include problems with mobility, learning, vision, and hearing.

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What are the long-term effects Cerebral Palsy?

When a child is diagnosed, parents want to know what the long-term effects of Cerebral Palsy are. Will the child be able to walk? Will there be learning difficulties? Is the child’s life expectancy compromised? What treatments will be available for their child and what changes will have to be made to make their child’s and the parents’ lives more manageable to deal with these complications?

Predicting the long-term effects of cerebral palsy in a particular child is difficult as cerebral palsy affects each child differently, and no two cases are the same. Most times, the child’s specialists will speak in terms of a “prognosis”, which is the medical term or art that factors in all that is known about the child’s condition to make an “educated prediction” about the child’s future abilities and needs. 

How is the prognosis for a child with cerebral palsy determined?

To give an accurate prognosis of cerebral palsy, including any potential long-term complications, doctors will review the child’s medical history from birth to the present day. This may include asking questions, examining the child, and ordering and reviewing the results of diagnostic tests. The review will include whether there were problems during the delivery and whether the signs and symptoms became apparent soon after birth or appeared over time. They will also evaluate the child’s current motor skills, reflexes, and the achievement of developmental milestones. Developmental milestones are the expected motor and mental skills a child should achieve at particular ages. Studies such as MRIs and CT scans may be reviewed to determine if, when, and what parts of the child’s brain were injured.

After this information is obtained, the doctors will be able to make an educated prognosis. Even so, parents should keep in mind this is only a prediction, and not a set outcome.

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Possible Long-Term Effects of Cerebral Palsy

The prognosis of cerebral palsy involves making predictions about the potential complications or long-term effects of cerebral palsy; these include problems with:

Overall Mobility

Many people with cerebral palsy experience some level of difficulty with mobility or controlling movements. If it affects the muscles of the lower body, this type of cerebral palsy also makes walking difficult resulting in a jerky, uneven gait.

Learning

Children with cerebral palsy may experience learning difficulties, including planning difficulties (like organization and sequencing), difficulty with communication, intellectual limitations, and short attention span.

Vision

Children with cerebral palsy can experience problems with their vision, including problems with focusing, due to injury to the parts of the brain involved in the processing of sight. They may also have a short visual attention span.

Hearing

Children with cerebral palsy usually have one of two different types of hearing loss: conductive or sensorineural (in some cases they can have both). Conductive hearing loss happens when sounds are not able to pass from the outer ear to the inner ear due to developmental abnormality of the bones inside the ear. Sensorineural hearing loss is the result of damage or abnormalities affecting the sensitive nerve pathways that connect the inner ear to the brain.

Communication

Cerebral palsy often affects the language centers of the brain that control speech and understanding. In mild cases, a child might be able to communicate but sometimes struggles to find the ‘right’ word. In more severe cases, a child's ability to verbally express himself or herself might be seriously impeded.

Life Expectancy

There’s no ‘average’ lifespan for people with cerebral palsy due to the variation in the degree of each person’s injury. Cerebral palsy is a permanent and non-progressive disorder meaning the damage to the brain has already occurred and will not worsen over time. How long a person lives depends on the severity of the complications and how those affect the body. That is why managing the complications of cerebral palsy is so important.

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Quality of life is key

Having limited motor skills doesn’t equate to an unsatisfactory quality of life. Additionally, a prognosis is only a prediction, not a predetermined outcome. Every day, children ‘beat the odds’ and achieve goals beyond their prognosis. To minimize the effects of the complications of cerebral palsy, and to maximize a child’s potential, they must be provided with an environment that promotes positive motor and intellectual development.

Your child’s future is in your hands

Discovering your child has cerebral palsy is life-changing. We can’t change the diagnosis, but if the cerebral palsy resulted from medical malpractice, we can help you obtain compensation for you and your child. The compensation will help cover the costs of future expenses, such as medical treatment, home healthcare and adaptations, physical therapy, special education, and other long-term expenses.

We understand how stressful a cerebral palsy diagnosis is and want to help. If you are worried about the long-term effects of cerebral palsy and its costs, contact us for a FREE, no-pressure consultation. Our priority is getting you and your family the justice you deserve.

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