Mary and Brian Kvitko of Oconee County Georgia, have given a voice (literally) to their young son Oscar, a first-grader who suffers from cerebral palsy. Oscar is doing well cognitively, but his condition made him unable to express himself verbally, until recently. The Kvitkos got Oscar a life-changing gift: a speech tablet. It is a computer device that has keys with pictures and symbols, which the tablet “speaks,” giving Oscar the ability to communicate. The tablet is such a welcome addition to the family, they’ve even given it a name: Odie.
“He’s got a huge personality,” said Mary Kvitko to the Oconee Enterprise. “His understanding of all the words is great, but being able to get his point across was more difficult.”
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy literally means brain-related paralysis. It’s a condition in which damage to the brain, usually during pregnancy or childbirth, causes a loss of muscular function. Cerebral palsy occurs in roughly 1 out of every 345 children the United Sates, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Cerebral palsy varies in severity, sometimes effecting the ability to use muscles in one half of the body or parts of the body, such as the limbs, but it can affect the entire body. People with cerebral palsy have problems with movement, coordination, and balance. According to the NIH, 7.8% of children with cerebral palsy can walk with a walker or some other form of hand-held mobility device, but 33% have no mobility at all. Cerebral palsy can also affect speech, as is the case with Oscar Kvitko, and it can create disabilities related to eating and other developmental problems.
Although he likely had it from birth, Oscar Kvitko was three years old when his parents discovered that he had cerebral palsy. It is estimated that 70% of all cerebral palsy cases occur prenatally or during birth. In certain cases, the brain injury is due to medical error or negligence. Some of the most common preventable causes of cerebral palsy include:
- Pregnancy infections: infections, such as rubella and cytomegalovirus, can be passed on to the baby causing cerebral palsy.
- Asphyxiation: Even brief periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain during the pregnancy, labor, or delivery can cause lasting injuries, including cerebral palsy.
- Untreated jaundice: a serious issue with the liver, bile duct, or red blood cells.
The Cost of Living with Cerebral Palsy
The CDC estimates that the lifetime cost of care for a person with cerebral palsy is about one-million dollars. The cost is much higher if the child has a co-occurring developmental disability, which is common for children with cerebral palsy, including epilepsy (42.4% of cerebral palsy cases) and autism (7%), according to the National Institute of Health (NIH).
Legal Options for Families Dealing with Cerebral Palsy
For many parents, hearing that their child has cerebral palsy is one of the more difficult things to experience. This is a situation that can present a lifetime of obstacles which most people have never thought about or experienced before. We encourage you to reach out to our Baltimore cerebral palsy lawyers at (410) 698-1717 for legal guidance during this difficult time. We are here to help you understand your options and help your child receive the long-term care they need.
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, contact Brown & Barron immediately. We want to help ensure that you don’t endure these difficulties and challenges without the legal counsel, care, and representation you deserve.