Cerebral palsy is one of those disorders that does not always show up immediately. Doctors can identify potential risks and figure out which children may be more likely to have the disorder, but you may not know at the moment of birth if that is true. As such, it is important to look for early signs and symptoms so that you can better prepare moving forward. Below are a few common symptoms to note: 1. Using one side of the body Even when a child is right-handed or left-handed, they should not entirely favor that side to the point that it is a noticeable difference. A child with cerebral palsy, however, may only use one side to crawl, reach for something or move for any reason. The child may appear to have no control -- or less control -- over the other side of his or her body. This is due to lower levels of muscle function on that side, not due to a preference by the child. 2. Unequal muscle tone Similarly, the muscles themselves may appear different even when not in use. They may look normal on one side and look too stiff or too loose on the other. When the child moves, it could make these differences even more apparent. 3. Delays in development This sometimes worries parents, who carefully monitor the child's development and look for milestones. Remember that not all children are exactly the same. Some hit these milestones weeks or even months before others, and that's perfectly fine. However, serious delays could indicate that the child has cerebral palsy. For instance, perhaps the child:
  • Has no ability to support or lift their own head, even at six months old.
  • Feels too stiff when being held.
  • Has little or no ability to roll over, despite being older than six months.
  • Cannot reach with both hands, always making one hand into a fist and reaching with the other one.
  • Begins to crawl far too late.
  • Even after starting to crawl, only uses one side of the body and allows the opposite limbs to drag on the ground.
  • Is unable to stand on their own, even when being held up or supported by an adult.
Developmental delays may continue as the child grows older. They could have trouble with motor skills and learned skills like speaking. Often, issues become more clear as the child ages because the developmental gap with other children is obvious. What now? Do you think that your child has cerebral palsy, and do you think a doctor's negligence may have contributed? If so, make sure you know all of the legal options you have.