A cerebral palsy diagnosis can be devastating for both mother and child. The realization that your little one may never have the life you expected is emotionally overwhelming and difficult to cope with. As with most things, the more you know about a topic, the less scary it can feel. Learning what steps to take after a cerebral palsy diagnosis can help relieve some of the uncertainty and fear surrounding the future and what you can do about it.
Do Your Cerebral Palsy Research
One of the first things you should do is take some time to research the condition. Your doctor has most likely already given you information that you were too shocked to absorb. The pamphlets they provide only seem to intensify the worry you feel. Sitting down to learn about the condition yourself can help you process the information better and give you a sense of control that you were instantly stripped of the moment you found out about the cerebral palsy diagnosis.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition or group of disorders that affects a child’s ability to control their movement and may come with intellectual disability. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, between 30-50% of those with cerebral palsy also have some cognitive impairment.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is caused by either damage to the brain or some abnormal development of the brain prior to birth. Damage to the brain that leads to cerebral palsy can occur before birth, during delivery, or shortly after. Most children have congenital cerebral palsy, meaning they were born with it. In some cases, cerebral palsy may occur in the early months or years of their lives. This Is known as acquired cerebral palsy.
How Will Cerebral Palsy Affect My Child’s Life?
Your child may suffer a variety of symptoms due to their condition. Their balance and coordination, ability to chew and swallow food, walk, stand, lift their arms, grab things, interact well with others, or learn and process information could all be affected by cerebral palsy. The challenges your child faces will depend on the type of cerebral palsy they have been diagnosed with. It’s possible they may only have a few of the symptoms.
Cerebral palsy is not a progressive disorder, so it generally does not get worse with time. Understanding the particulars of your child’s diagnosis and learning the best ways to help and care for your child before they reach developmental milestones can make things smoother for you both.
Find the Right Pediatrician
The medical care provider you use can make a big difference in your child’s journey. Finding a pediatric specialist who predominantly works with disabled children will ensure your child is getting healthcare customized to their unique needs.
There are a number of groups throughout Maryland that can help you find the right kind of doctor. They can also help you find other resources and support groups you will need going forward.
Build a Strong Support System Throughout a Variety of Areas
You need a strong team around you. Life may get overwhelming and frustrating and sad when your child is facing developmental challenges. Having a group of caring and understanding people around you will pull you through. Your team will hopefully include reliable family and friends who can assist with your child and provide the emotional support you and your little one need. It should also include your medical doctors and developmental or learning specialists and physical therapy experts. It may even include other people online who engage in social media or online groups and forums for cerebral palsy or the disabled community. Your team can include:
- Your parents, siblings, cousins, etc
- Close friends
- Medical practitioners
- Speech therapists
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Mental health therapists
- Legal advocates
- Special needs advocates
Locate Local Disability Resources
Cities, counties, and states have resources for disabled children, adults, and special needs families. Visiting your county website may be a good starting point for finding financial, educational, and emotional resources. Maryland has several helpful disability resources, including 2-1-1 and the Maryland Department of Disabilities. You should also ask your doctor or a specialist for recommendations of resources.
Get Legal Help if You Suspect Child’s Cerebral Palsy Is the Result of Medical Negligence
Cerebral palsy is the most common movement disability in children. It can happen due to a variety of causes. It’s scary to think that some of those causes are preventable, such as a birth injury resulting from medical negligence. If you believe a medical error is responsible for your child’s cerebral palsy, you can hold the healthcare provider accountable by filing a medical malpractice claim. An experienced birth injury lawyer can help you recover the financial compensation you need to provide a life that adapts to your child’s needs and provides you relief.
Take Time for Yourself
The care you give to your child is only as good as the care you give to yourself. It’s normal to feel guilty about spending time alone, having a night out, or buying something for yourself, but it’s okay to do it. Tap into your support system or find a babysitter when you need help. Raising a child with significant physical challenges is not easy. Give yourself a lot of grace and a little time to make sure you are physically and mentally where you need to be to care for your child and your family.
Let the Team at Brown & Barron Be Your Legal Advocates
The legal team at Brown & Barron, LLC is dedicated to helping mothers, fathers, babies, and families after suffering life-altering injuries and losses in Maryland. We are devoted to bringing clients justice through medical malpractice cases. Of all the steps to take after a cerebral palsy diagnosis, seeking legal help will facilitate your ability to achieve the other steps. A Maryland birth injury lawyer at our firm may be able to help you pursue monetary compensation, find local resources, connect with qualified medical professionals, build a team of experts in mental health and disability-related fields, and ultimately foster a more stress-free home.