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What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy affects hundreds of thousands of people in the United States. Every year, roughly 10,000 babies receive a cerebral palsy diagnosis at birth. For those children, the condition continues to affect them for the rest of their lives, and it greatly increases their medical expenses over the course of a lifetime. 

Cerebral palsy often occurs due to medical malpractice. Parents can help their children get the treatment they need if they identify the symptoms of cerebral palsy as soon as possible. Occasionally, the symptoms will not fully manifest until the child is in preschool, so it is vital for parents to know the signs for the first few years. 

Most common symptoms

Some children only show a few symptoms, while others have practically all of them. If your child displays any of the following, then you need to him or her to a doctor's office right away. 

  • Chronic seizures
  • Difficulty making precise movements, such as picking up a spoon or crayon
  • Difficulty eating or sucking
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Constant drooling
  • Difficulty walking, which can include having a wide gait, asymmetrical gait or crouched gait
  • Tendency to favor one side of the body, which can include dragging one leg when crawling
  • Delays with fine motor skills milestones, such as when a child crawls, sits up alone and pushes up on arms
  • Athetosis, which occurs when a child makes slow, writhing movements
  • Involuntary movements or chronic tremors
  • Ataxia, which is a lack of muscle coordination
  • Having stiff muscles with ordinary reflexes
  • Having stiff muscles while making exaggerated reflexes
  • Variations in muscle tone with some parts of the body feeling too floppy or stiff than the others

Doctors will order a CT scan or an MRI to determine if a child has cerebral palsy. It may require numerous tests to reach a consensus, but it is vital to go through them all for the child's health.

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