Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
If you are concerned that your child may have cerebral palsy, there are a number of signs and symptoms you should be aware of. Typically, cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain that occurs before or during birth. Since the brain is still developing during this time, damage to a given area can lead to permanent problems with the function controlled by the affected brain region.
In general, cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects mobility, muscle movement and tone, posture, and reflexes. A child with cerebral palsy may have difficulties contracting or releasing muscles, creating excessive rigidity or floppiness of the muscles. They may suffer functional difficulties, such as abnormal gait or difficulty walking. Other possible symptoms include irregular posture or difficulty standing or sitting up straight.
Some signs of cerebral palsy appear in infancy, while others take years to exhibit. Many parents observe cerebral palsy symptoms as their children enter preschool years or when they begin missing developmental milestones. Some signs are overt and difficult to miss, such as involuntary movements. Others are harder to notice until the child should begin talking or problem-solving.
Signs of Cerebral Palsy
Depending on the age of the child and the type of cerebral palsy he or she suffers from, your son or daughter may experience a variety of symptoms. Most people with cerebral palsy don’t see a worsening of symptoms as they get older; however, caregivers may observe various signs as the child grows and develops. The earlier a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, the better chance they have of benefitting from early intervention protocols and therapies. Generally, parents and caregivers begin to identify symptoms as they present because infants and toddlers simply can’t communicate their symptoms during the early stages of development. Here are some of the main areas affected by cerebral palsy and the signs and symptoms you may observe as a result.
Muscle Tone & Coordination
Damage to the brain involved in cerebral palsy can prevent a person from contracting, flexing, releasing, and coordinating their muscles. Abnormal muscle tone occurs in a variety of ways, including:
- Hypertonia: muscle stiffness
- With normal reflexes: rigidity
- With exaggerated reflexes: spasticity
- Hypotonia: floppy muscles or lack of muscle tone
- Dystonia: some muscles are too stiff, while others are too floppy
All muscle tone adnormalities can lead to issues with crawling, walking, sitting, standing, and other movements. Some symptoms caused by cerebral palsy’s effects on muscle tone include:
- Balance problems
- Difficulties with coordination
- Walking issues: abnormal gait
- Favoring one side of the body
- Involuntary movements
- Athetosis: writhing movements
Motor Skill Function
Many children with cerebral palsy experience motor skill difficulties caused by damage to the regions of the brain responsible for controlling motor function. This may manifest in:
- Motor skill milestone delays
- Fine motor skill problems: precise movements
Issues with motor function may exhibit as delays or difficulties with:
- Rolling over
- Sitting up
- Sucking, eating, or swallowing
Brain and Senses
Because cerebral palsy is a neurological condition, some of its symptoms directly affect brain function and the senses controlled by the nervous system. Some of the brain and neurological symptoms of cerebral palsy are as follows:
- Epilepsy: seizures
- Cognitive impairments
- Abnormalities with sensation or perception
- Urinary incontinence
- Mental health conditions
Each child experiences a unique collection of cerebral palsy symptoms. Some may exhibit only a few of the signs above, while others have a combination of related issues and still others have nearly every symptom on the list.
Have a child with Cerebral Palsy in NJ?
For additional medical information related to cerebral palsy, you should speak with a knowledgeable healthcare provider. If you’re interested in finding out if your child may have grounds for a cerebral palsy lawsuit due to medical negligence during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or neonatal care, contact our experienced cerebral palsy lawyers for a free consultation. We assist clients throughout New Jersey and surrounding areas. Contact us online or call (866)-708-8617 today for more information.
Developmental Milestones for Baby, March of Dimes
Cerebral Palsy, American Academy of Pediatrics