This week National Health Education Week and now is as good of a time as any to talk about Cerebral Palsy (CP) and how it affects both newborns and parents. CP can come in many forms leaving children requiring different levels of care depending on how severe the condition is, and oftentimes this is overwhelming for parents who are taken off guard and are searching for ways to cope. There are several different challenges that will need to be faced for a baby suffering from CP to grow up to their fullest potential that includes the health of the baby, environmental issues, and monetary difficulties.
The most immediate danger to babies born with CP is their physical well-being. While the majority of CP cases are diagnosed over a period of a few years after birth, there are some signs that can be symptoms that can be observed in infants that should be taken as warning signs. The biggest red flag is a lack of muscle tone or strength. If a baby feels floppy when picked up, can’t hold up their head while in a sitting position, has spasms, or difficulties swallowing while feeding then this could indicate CP. There are other red flags during the first year of life that also can point to CP such as developmental delays in sitting, crawling, and walking.
Once a baby has been diagnosed with CP then it is imperative to begin getting them access to treatment options. There is no cure for CP but there are several treatment options available to address both the health and development of babies who suffer from it. Physical therapy is of great value for helping to relieve pain, increasing muscle tone and strength, increasing independence, and increasing range of motion. In addition to physical therapy, medications are often used to alleviate pain and depending on the severity of the CP doctors may order corrective surgery to fix scoliosis issues that are common among those with the condition.
Physical therapy is only one component in helping someone with CP survive and strive to their fullest in life. Although parents won’t have to deal with issues such as speech therapy and developing social skills until later on, it is good to plan ahead of time so as to not be taken off guard. As a baby with CP grows and develops into a school-age child, they will need extra care and the right environment to help them ultimately grow into an emotionally healthy adult.
With all the therapy, medicine, doctor’s visits, and possible surgery that await a newborn with CP there is a huge concern where the money will come from to pay for all of this. Health insurance will cover some of it but coming up with the rest will be a difficult task for anyone who is not in an upper-income bracket. Depending on the circumstances involved it might be the case that a physician is to blame for a baby being born with CP. If there is a clear-cut case of malpractice then a Cerebral Palsy lawsuit may be a course of action to help mitigate the costs of treatment. There are also charities and groups dedicated to providing monetary support.
It is important for parents of newborns with CP to understand that although there is going to be a difficult road ahead of them that it is not impossible, and that with the proper treatment and love that their child will grow up and thrive.