Doctors diagnose children with cerebral palsy (CP) into three categories based on their movement disorder.
Spasticity is the most common form of cerebral palsy (CP), affecting approximately 400,000 people in the United States and some 80 percent of those with CP. Spastic CP is characterized by increased muscle tone.
The motor cortex, near the top of the head, is responsible for the control and execution of voluntary muscle movements, which it does by sending neural impulses to muscle groups throughout the body. Spastic CP occurs when the motor cortex of the brain is injured. Neural impulses that travel through the damaged part of the brain are interrupted, resulting in jerky, awkward movements. Eventually, these muscle groups develop hypertonia or excess muscle tone.
Causes and consequences of spastic CP
Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), an injury to the infant’s brain caused by a lack of oxygen, is often to blame for spastic CP but is also associated with hydrocephalus (excessive fluid in the brain) and periventricular leukomalacia (tissue death around fluid-filled areas of an infant’s brain).
Spastic CP significantly impacts the lives of children who suffer from the disorder. Although it can affect any muscle group in the body, it more commonly affects certain areas:
• Upper limbs – Spasticity in the arms and hands can cause involuntary bending of the elbow and wrists, and involuntary clenching of the hand into a fist.
• Lower limbs – Spasticity in the legs and feet can cause involuntary bending at the knee, hips, and toes.
• Facial muscles – Spasticity in the tongue and other muscles in the face can interfere with speaking, eating, and drinking.
Depending on the severity of the disorder and the affected muscle groups, children may experience difficulty completing everyday tasks, including:
• Getting dressed
• Eating and drinking
• Standing upright
• Sitting still
• Washing and showering
• Grabbing and manipulating objects
Spastic CP can be debilitating, but it is not progressive. Although the underlying brain damage does not worsen over time, symptoms and associated pain may change, including:
• Increased muscle stiffness, atrophy, or fibrosis
• Hip dislocation, spinal scoliosis, and bone deformities
• Contractures that limit a joint’s full range of motion
Treatment options are available, such as physical therapy, medication, botulinum (Botox) injections, and surgery.
Consult with an experienced birth injury law firm
If your child has spastic cerebral palsy, it may have been preventable. The Michigan birth injury lawyers at the law firm of Sommers Schwartz focus on representing families with children who suffered a birth trauma.
We are widely recognized as an authority in medical malpractice lawsuits, and we put our knowledge, experience, and dedication behind each of our client’s cases. To learn more about how we can help you pursue justice for your family, call 800-783-0989 to schedule a free case evaluation.