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Are Babies with Cerebral Palsy Stiff?

If you have noticed stiffness in your baby, it could be due to cerebral palsy. To increase mobility in your child, they will likely require medical intervention.

Stiffness and decreased mobility is a common side effect of cerebral palsy in babies. Spastic cerebral palsy exists on a spectrum, meaning it might impact certain children more than others. For that same reason, stiffness might not be apparent in babies until they fail to reach certain developmental stages. Stiffness in babies caused by cerebral palsy can be improved with medical intervention, such as physical therapy and orthopedic surgery. If your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by a negligent doctor during birth, they can be held responsible in a lawsuit. This can allow you to recover compensation for damages, such as expenses related to your child’s physical therapy or other treatments.

To have Rice, Murtha & Psoras assess your case for free, call our Parkville birth injury lawyers at (410) 694-7291 today.

Why Are Some Babies with Cerebral Palsy Stiff?

Cerebral palsy can happen when the brain develops abnormally or is injured during birth and can lead to a wide variety of symptoms and hardships for children as they age. One of the biggest signs that a baby is born with cerebral palsy is apparent stiffness.

Cerebral palsy can cause a decreased ability to move muscles and reduced flexibility. This results in a certain stiffness, which can vary in severity depending on the case. Spastic cerebral palsy, which is classified by the stiffness of a baby’s muscles, can be mild, only impacting a portion of a baby’s body, like their hand. Spastic cerebral palsy can also be severe, impacting the majority of a baby’s body, causing them to have serious issues moving fluidly. The result is a visible stiffness.

Not all babies with cerebral palsy have spastic cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a spectrum; the brain development of each child with cerebral palsy differs, meaning the symptoms of the congenital disability they experience might differ as well.

How Soon After Your Baby’s Birth Will You Notice Stiffness Due to Cerebral Palsy?

When babies are born, they have little strength or control over their muscles, regardless of whether or not they have cerebral palsy. Depending on the type of cerebral palsy your child has, the stiffness in their muscles might be more or less noticeable at birth.

Your baby might not be noticeably stiff upon birth, depending on how trained a doctor’s eye is and how cerebral palsy presents physically in your child. In the moments following birth and in the subsequent weeks, babies split time between being swaddled and learning how to use their muscles. Babies with mild spasticity due to cerebral palsy might demonstrate clear signs of stiffness when they fail to meet certain developmental stages, such as lifting their heads or rolling over on their stomachs. So, depending on your baby’s specific case, you might notice stiffness at any point, from the first moments of their life to the first few months. In extremely mild cases where children lack mobility to specific body parts, stiffness due to cerebral palsy might not be apparent until a child is several years old.

That said, severe spastic cerebral palsy should be easily diagnosed by medical professionals, especially if your child receives regular check-ups in the weeks and months following their birth. Their pediatrician should check for a lack of mobility or reaction, especially if your child has already been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Stiffness in babies might also be due to another condition entirely. For example, hypertonia, which is the condition of having too much muscle tone, can make babies appear stiff and have difficulty moving. Like cerebral palsy, hypertonia might be caused by negligence during birth that causes damage to the brain or spinal cord. Hypertonia might also result from cerebral palsy.

Can You Improve Stiffness in Your Baby Due to Cerebral Palsy?

Without intervention, stiffness in children with cerebral palsy can worsen, making it difficult for them to maneuver through the world. Fortunately, there are ways for you to help your child who is dealing with stiffness due to cerebral palsy.

Intervening and treating spastic cerebral palsy as soon as possible following birth is important. Your doctor should properly diagnose and monitor your child’s cerebral palsy as your baby grows. The best treatment for stiffness due to cerebral palsy is physical therapy. Babies can go to regular physical therapy visits, where specialists can encourage certain movements to improve strength and mobility. This can significantly mitigate the impact spastic cerebral palsy has on your baby. Starting physical therapy sessions when your child is very young will give them the best chances of improvement. Of course, you would not know to do this unless instructed by your doctor. If your child’s doctor fails to diagnose their cerebral palsy, that could be considered malpractice.

Children with cerebral palsy often require certain treatments, like physical therapy, to help with stiffness. Because cerebral palsy is a permanent congenital disability, children might require physical therapy for the rest of their lives. Children might also require orthopedic surgery at some point to treat spastic cerebral palsy. This can become very expensive. If you believe that a doctor injured your child at birth, causing them to develop spastic cerebral palsy, contact our birth injury lawyers to review your case. When doctors are found to be liable for a baby’s cerebral palsy, they can be responsible for compensating families for the financial and non-pecuniary damages that they have caused. This can allow parents to get the funds necessary to provide their children with the physical therapy they need to alleviate stiffness caused by cerebral palsy.

Call Our Lawyers About Your Birth Injury Claim Today

Our Baltimore birth injury lawyers can give you a free case assessment when you call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.