Cerebral palsy is caused by a birth injury to a child’s brain and is a term used to describe a group of several disabilities which can negatively impact a child’s ability to move. The condition is permanent but does not get any worse as a child matures. Although cerebral palsy (CP) is not life-threatening except in specific instances when babies are born suffering from other severe health issues. As such infants who are diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy enjoy normal life spans.
The Definition of Cerebral Palsy?
This disorder negatively impacts a child’s muscle tone, their movement and their motor skills. Cerebral palsy affects a child’s ability to move around in a purposeful, coordinated manner. The condition may also negatively impact a child’s other body functions which includes their muscles and motor skills. An example being their breathing, ability to talk, eat as well as a child’s bowel and bladder control.
The different types of cerebral palsy are as follows:
- Spastic cerebral palsy – this form of the condition causes movement issues and stiffness
- Ataxic cerebral palsy – this form of CP affects balance as well as depth perception
- Dyskinetic (athetoid) cerebral palsy – this form of the condition causes uncontrolled movements
Are the Causes of Cerebral Palsy Known?
Although the cause of cerebral palsy in children sometimes remains unknown, the condition is often associated with brain damage that occurs before or at the time a baby is born. The condition can also occur in the first three to five years of a child’s life. CP may lead to a child developing other health issues which can negatively impact their vision, hearing and children with cerebral palsy often experience learning difficulties.
With this said, the following may lead to a child developing cerebral palsy:
- Infections that occur during pregnancy
- A stroke when a bay is in a mother’s womb or after they are born
- Jaundice that goes untreated
- Genetic health disorders
- A mother experiencing health issues during pregnancy
- Something goes wrong during the birth of a child although this is rare
It is worth noting that babies born prematurely are at greater risk of suffering from cerebral palsy than babies who are born full-term. Infants who are deemed low-birth weight as well as multiple birth babies are also at greater risk of having CP. Examples being twins and triplets.
Should a child suffer brain damage during infancy or in early childhood, they may also develop cerebral palsy. The sort of brain damage that could lead to a baby or a toddler suffering from CP could include the following:
- Bacterial meningitis
- Lead poisoning
- Poor blood flow to a baby or a toddler’s brain
- Having been shaken as a baby or a toddler (shaken baby syndrome)
- Being involved in a car accident
How Does a Doctor Diagnose Cerebral Palsy in a Child?
Babies born prematurely or who suffer from health issues that could put them more at risk of suffering from cerebral palsy, are closely watched for any symptoms. A doctor would look for the following in a baby or toddler who is suspected of having CP:
- Delays in their development – examples being when a child does not reach for their toys by the time they reach 4 months old or they do not sit up when they reach 7 months of age
- Issues with motor skills – examples being a child not being able to crawl, move their arms and legs in a normal way, or they are not able to walk
- Movements that are uncoordinated
- Muscle tone – examples being that a baby or toddler’s muscles are too tight or too loose
- Reflexes which includes hands in fists infant reflexes or the palmar grasp which a child continues to do beyond a specific age
What Problems Does a Child With Cerebral Palsy Have to Cope With?
Children with cerebral palsy can suffer from a range of cognitive and physical disabilities. Some children with CP have great difficulty when it comes to learning or moving about whereas other children with the condition do not. The reason being that it would depend on how much of a child’s brain has been damaged. Examples being as follows:
- Partial damage to a child’s brain may only affect the part that controls their ability to walk
- When a larger area of a child’s brain is damaged, it could result in a child’s ability to talk and walk being negatively impacted
Does Cerebral Palsy Affect a Child’s Health?
Because cerebral palsy negatively impacts the motor control area of a child’s brain as well as their muscular system, it affects their posture as well as their ability to move normally. Just how a child’s health is affected would depend on which part of their brain has been damaged and the extent of the damage. As such, CP can affect children in various and different ways as follows:
- A child’s balance
- Their muscle tone
- Muscle control
- Both voluntary and involuntary movements
As a consequence, the effect cerebral palsy may have on a child’s health can vary with one child being unable to carry out manual tasks because of a weakness in a hand or arm while another child with CP may not be able to stand or walk without assistance from parents, teachers and caregivers. The same is true if a child’s speech is affected.
Because cerebral palsy can affect the motor centre, an infant or toddler with CP may be unable to control their movements and may often suffer from stiff, weak or tight muscles. Children suffering from mild types of the condition can also suffer from involuntary movements and/or tremors. If a child has a severe form of the CP, they often experience difficulty controlling their heads/necks and have trouble eating/swallowing. They also have difficulty with bladder and bowel control.
It is important to note that cerebral palsy will not cause a child to develop other disabilities on their own but the condition is often linked to other associated conditions that may have an adverse effect on the life expectancy of a child with CP. These include the following:
- Loss of vision or blindness
- Loss of hearing
- Food aspiration – when food or fluids get sucked into a child’s lungs
- Gastroesophageal reflux – when a child spits up food
- Issues with speech which often results in drooling
- Tooth decay
- Problems with sleep and associated sleep disorder
- Behavioural issues
- Problems learning
- Intellectual impairment
- Difficulty eating and drinking
- An inability to walk
It is also worth noting that living with a child with cerebral palsy often means having to cope with a child suffering from seizures and that many children who have CP require ongoing treatment/therapy and would need wheelchairs and braces as well as other types of aids.
What Treatment is There for Children with Cerebral Palsy?
Although a cure does not exist for cerebral palsy, there are things that can be done to improve the quality of a child’s life so they can achieve their greatest potential which includes the following:
- A treatment that could involve surgery to correct a dislocated hip and a curved spine (scoliosis)
- Leg braces to help a child walk
- Physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy
- Specialist equipment that help children with CP to get around and to communicate with other people
- Therapies to improve hearing, emotional and social development
- Specific medicines that can help children with CP cope with muscle pain and muscle stiffness
- A diet that is high in calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus which help keep a child’s bones strong
It is also important to remember that a child’s symptoms will not get any worse over time.
What is the Life Expectancy of a Child with Cerebral Palsy?
No general studies for the life expectancy for children or people with cerebral palsy have been carried out to date, however, children with the condition can live anything from 30 to 70 years depending on how severe their condition happens to be. With this in mind, a child with mild CP will generally enjoy a longer life-span than a child who experiences mobility and intellectual issues.
It is also worth noting that children with CP who respond to specific therapies/treatments who do not have any issues with their intellectual development, and who are able to function with little or without any need of assistance can enjoy longer life expectancy that a child with more severe disabilities. With this said, the majority of children with CP even in its mildest form, typically have a slightly shorter life expectancy than people in general.
According to research published by Pediatrics & Therapeutics, the life expectancy of a child with CP also depends on the quality of therapy and treatment they are given. The study also pointed to the following which would affect a child’s life span:
- A child’s birth weight
- Whether symptoms are severe
- Intellectual impairments
- Limited mobility
Other things that would affect a child’s life expectancy if they have cerebral palsy would include them suffering from any of the following health issues:
- Respiratory disorders
All too often babies who suffer severe forms of CP also experience difficulty breathing and as a consequence find it hard to breath on their own. As such, respiratory issues are the cause of a significant number of mortality in infants.
How Can I Improve the Life Expectancy of a Child With Cerebral Palsy?
As mentioned previously, it is possible to improve the quality and life expectancy of a child with cerebral palsy by caring for them proactively. Children with milder symptoms of CP benefit from being provided with physical and occupational therapy promptly and if regularly given, it can help improve a child’s ability to move and it can help them eat without assistance. Children with CP who have no or very little intellectual limitation can also receive education needed so they can function as happy and productive adults.
What Else Should I Be Aware of When Living With a Child With Cerebral Palsy?
Babies, toddlers and children with cerebral palsy often require many different forms of specialist medical care. They need to be cared for by doctors as well as the following medical professionals:
- Social workers
If your child needs to see a lot of medical professionals and specialists, it is still crucial for them to be seen by a primary care doctor or a cerebral palsy specialist who would care for your child’s health care. They would also handle to coordinate care that your child may require with other specialists and doctors.
Looking after a child with cerebral palsy can often be overwhelming at times. As such, as a parent, you too need to accept help when it is offered whether this is provided by family members or friends. However, you can also seek help if you are facing any challenges from a local or online cerebral palsy support group with links to specific organisations being provided below:
It is essential for you to remain healthy and strong when looking after a child with cerebral palsy because it benefits everyone concerned. It is also important to work as closely as you can with the doctors and other carers so that you can develop an effective treatment plan for your child. It is also essential to adapt a treatment/therapy plan as your child grows and matures with the plans listed below being a great place to start and adapt as necessary:
- Cerebral Palsy Checklist: Babies & Pre-schoolers – from birth to Age 5
- Cerebral Palsy Checklist: Big Kids – from ages 6 to 12
- Cerebral Palsy Checklist: Teens & Young Adults – from ages 13 to 21
For more information on Gastro-oesophageal reflux in babies, please follow the link provided below which takes you to the NHS website:
If you would like to contact someone who can help and support you when caring for a child with cerebral palsy, please click on the link provided below:
Schools must provide safe areas for children, teachers as well as parents to be in and there are Health and Safety Executive regulations in place to ensure this is so. Every school should have a health and safety policy in place offering details of their responsibilities towards pupils who are in their care. Should your child be involved in a school accident that leaves them injured and there is proof of negligence, it could entitle you to seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim against the negligent third party.
To find out more about child accident at school claims and what to do when filing a personal injury claim, please read on.
Would My Child Accident at School Claim be Valid?
Children often injure themselves at school, but typically this involves a scrape, bruise or slight cut. However, there are situations in a school environment when a child might suffer a much more serious type of injury which could be as a consequence of negligence with examples being as follows:
- Equipment used at school is faulty or badly maintained – examples being chairs, desks or toys
- Loose or torn carpets as well as slippery, wet floors
- Under-prepared or contaminated food served in a school’s canteen
- A lack of sufficient supervision in a school environment
Accidents do happen and children can injure themselves when they are playing or messing about in the playground, however, it is the responsibility of the school to ensure that your child is safe when they are at school and the adequate supervision is always provided which includes when you child goes on a school trip. If the school your child attends does not follow safety procedures and as a result your child is injured, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for the distress, pain and suffering both your child and loved ones had to endure.
How Will Filing for Child Accident at School Compensation Help Financially?
If your child suffers injuries in an accident at school, they may require specialist medical care and treatment. Travelling to and from the medical facility would mean paying out of your own pocket which can quickly mount up and as a result lead to you having to cope with financial hardship. By filing a personal injury claim for compensation, it can take all the worry of having to pay for your child’s treatment and other out of pocket expenses you have to cope with.
The level of compensation you could be awarded in a successful child accident at school claim would depend on the severity of the injuries sustained. A solicitor could assess your case in an initial, no obligation consultation which is normally free of charge before advising you of the following:
- Whether negligence on the part of a third party can be proved
- Whether there is enough evidence to support your personal injury claim
Once satisfied, the solicitor would let you know at the earliest opportunity what you may expect to receive in the way of child injury at school compensation. With this in mind, the solicitor who represents you would ensure that you are compensated for the following:
- Private medical care and therapy which could help speed up your child’s recovery
- Home tutoring hold your child be unable to attend school during their recovery
- Your loss of earnings should you have been obliged to take time off work to care for your injured child
- Your expenses which includes medical and travel costs
- Adaptations to your home should these be required to accommodate your child
- Rehabilitation should your child require ongoing rehab both immediate and ongoing
Who Do I File a Child Accident at School Claim Against?
If someone else caused the injury to your child while they were at school, a solicitor would advise you on who could be held negligent with examples being as follows:
- The school or academy your child attends
- Teachers as well as other people who are employed by a school
- A trust that is in charge of the school or academy your child attends
What Can I Include in a Child Accident at School Claim?
You would be able to claim both damages and losses in a child accident at school claim. Personal injury compensation is divided into two parts which are explained below:
- General damages would be paid to you as a way of compensating your child for all the distress, pain and suffering they were put through
- Special damages would be paid to reimburse you for all the out of pocket expenses you paid out as a direct result of your child’s injuries. Special damages are also paid to cover all other costs paid out which includes any loss of earnings you may have had due to not being able to work because you were taking care of your injured child
It is very important that you hold onto all your receipts because these are needed to prove all the expenses and other costs you paid out so that the amount of special damages you receive can be calculated.
Is There a Time Limit to Making a Child Accident at School Claim?
When claiming compensation for your child if they were injured in a school accident, you would have up the time your child turns 18 years of age to file your case against the negligent third party. However, it is far better to seek advice from a solicitor sooner rather than later when things are still fresh in everyone’s minds. Any witness memories of the incident would also still be fresh in their minds making collecting the necessary evidence to support a personal injury claim that much easier.
Should you wish to file a claim for yourself because you were injured at school when you were a child, the statutory time limit of 3 years would begin from the date of your 18th birthday and you would have up until you turn 21 years of age to do so. However, as mentioned previously, it is best to start a personal injury as soon as possible for the same reasons stated above.
How Would a Solicitor Handle My Child Accident at School Claim?
Once a solicitor has established that your personal injury claim against the negligent third party is valid, they would act on your behalf by contacting the person directly to determine whether they accept or deny liability for your child’s injuries. If responsibility is accepted, the solicitor would then negotiate an “interim” payment for you to help pay for any private medical treatment your child may require. This upfront payment can also be used to pay for other expenses that can be directly linked to the injuries your child sustained. The money that is paid out in “interim payments” is then deducted from the final settlement you are awarded.
The solicitor would also help when it comes to gathering the evidence that is required to support your child accident at school claim. This would include ensuring that the following proof is collected in a timely way:
- Witness statements
- CCTV footage if available
- Independent medical reports detailing the extent of the injuries your child sustained and the prognosis
All personal injury claims involving minors must be heard by a judge is what is known as an “infant approval hearing”. Even if a settlement has been agreed by the person/organisation/trust, the hearing must go before the hearing because it is compulsory and ensures that an injured child is awarded an acceptable and fair level of compensation to suit the injuries they suffered.
What Level of Compensation Could My Injured Child Receive?
As previously touched upon, the level of compensation you may be awarded in a successful child accident at school claim would depend on the following:
- The severity of the injuries your child sustained
- Whether your child’s future life is negatively impacted by the injuries they suffered
- Whether your child would require ongoing, long-term treatment/therapy/care
- How much you had to pay out as a consequence of your child having been injured at school – this could include any loss of earnings you had to cope with
- Whether you had to buy specialist equipment
- Whether home adaptations were required
A solicitor working on your behalf would ensure that you are awarded an acceptable level of compensation for the injuries your child sustained and would negotiate the amount through the court or directly with the negligent third party’s insurer.
Would a No Win No Fee Solicitor Take on My Child Accident at School Claim?
When you contact a solicitor they would determine whether your claim against a negligent third party is valid and once this has been established, they would typically agree to represent you on a No Win No Fee basis taking all the financial risks of filing a personal injury claim off the table. You would not have to pay the solicitor an upfront fee for them to start investigating your case.
In short, there is no financial risk involved when working with a No Win No Fee solicitor who agrees to represent you. The only time the “success fee” would be payable for the advice and legal representation the solicitor provided, is when you are awarded the child injury at school compensation you seek and the amount known as a “success fee” is deducted from the money you receive. Should your claim be unsuccessful, you would have to pay nothing to the solicitor who acted on your behalf.
If you believe that a school environment is unsafe and you wish to report it to someone in an official capacity, the following link takes you to the government website where you will find essential reading on health and safety for school children:
To find out more information on how to report a serious incident involving a child, please follow the link provided below: