Cerebral Palsy

By Peter DePaolis

Cerebral Palsy Information Provided By A Washington, D.C. Birth Injury Attorney

gavel with a stethoscopeCerebral palsy is a condition where a brain injury impairs a child’s muscle function and fine motor skills. Cerebral palsy can be caused by birth injury and is usually recognized early in a child’s life. Although cerebral palsy can be severe and may result in difficulty learning to walk and talk, many cases are less severe, involving restricted movement and stiff muscles.

There are four types of cerebral palsy:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy – stiff, permanently contracted limbs that make movement difficult
  • Arthetoid Cerebral Palsy – slow, uncontrolled movements of hands, feet, arms, or legs
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – poor balance and coordination
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy – involves two or more types of cerebral palsy

The severity of each case of cerebral palsy often depends upon the type of cerebral palsy, as well as the symptoms being exhibited.


Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage that hinders a child’s ability to send messages to the body indicating how to move. This brain damage can be due to a number of factors, including:

  • Birth asphyxia or other birth injury
  • Genetic factors, including maternal seizures and maternal mental retardation
  • Infections, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cytomegalovirus, and rubella
  • Head injury
  • Reye’s syndrome
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals

While these conditions do not automatically mean that your child has cerebral palsy, if they exist, you should monitor your child closely to make sure that he does not later develop any of the symptoms of cerebral palsy.


Cerebral palsy is most commonly diagnosed in children between the ages of four months and two years. Symptoms of cerebral palsy include:

  • Stiff muscles
  • Difficulty learning to crawl, smile, walk, or talk
  • Abnormal or decreased muscle tone
  • Involuntary movements
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing, or eating
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vision or hearing problems

Some children diagnosed with cerebral palsy may also suffer from seizures, mental retardation, or learning disabilities.


Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, your child can be treated by a physician to reduce the symptoms associated with CP. Treatment may include:

  • Physical therapy to improve coordination and muscle strength
  • Speech therapy to improve impaired speech
  • Occupational therapy to learn how to complete daily activities and to create a sense of independence
  • Medications, such as muscle relaxers or anticonvulsant medication
  • Special equipment, such as braces, casts, and splints
  • Orthopedic surgery to relieve stiff muscles, to strengthen loose muscles, and to increase overall mobility
  • Counseling to assist with behavioral challenges

Although raising a child with cerebral palsy can be a difficult and frustrating process, it is often good to find hope in the fact that, with the proper treatment, many children with cerebral palsy live long and productive lives, with few developmental delays.


If you think that your child may be suffering from cerebral palsy, you should contact a doctor who can thoroughly examine your child. You should immediately seek medical care if child experiences the following:

  • Seizures
  • Unusually jerky, abrupt, uncoordinated, slow, or writhing movements
  • Excessively tense muscles
  • Inability to sit up unsupported by seven months of age
  • Inability to speak by twelve months of age
  • Strabismus (one eye turned inward or outward)

In addition to seeking medical care, you should also contact a Virginia, Maryland, or Washington, D.C. injury lawyer who is experienced in birth injury and cerebral palsy cases. Our cerebral palsy birth injury attorneys have years of experience recovering compensation from responsible parties to cover the costs of providing treatment to children with cerebral palsy. Your child’s condition may have been wrongly caused by the actions of another. If this is the case, you should be compensated for this injustice. Contact our Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorney at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P., today for help in recovering compensation for your child’s injuries.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.