The Costs of Cerebral Palsy for Families Affected by Birth Injuries
One of the most common and devastating consequences associated with birth injuries is the development of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is a chronic condition caused by paralysis of part of the individual’s brain. This paralysis of the brain results in paralysis of muscles affecting mobility, flexibility, and overall quality of life. Cerebral palsy is a long-term condition that can result in the requirement for specialized care, therapy, assistive aids for mobility, and continued medication support.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Causes of cerebral palsy in infants are often due to an injury before, during, or following delivery. The most common birth injuries resulting in cerebral palsy include:
- Oxygen deprivation
- Forceful delivery
- Trauma to the head
- Instrument-related injury
- Labor process lasting 18 hours or more
Cerebral palsy can affect different parts of the infant’s body in different ways. The infant may experience spastic cerebral palsy, which results in spastic or stiff limbs and limited mobility. Similarly, athetoid cerebral palsy results in uncontrolled body movements, which may be spastic or abnormal. Ataxic cerebral palsy affects balance, depth perception, and walking abilities.
What are the Costs of Cerebral Palsy?
Like most chronic, long-term medical conditions, cerebral palsy has long-term financial concerns for the family of the individual affected. The costs of living with cerebral palsy go well beyond any initial medical care. Additionally, the costs of cerebral palsy affect not only the individual and his or her family, but also the economy at large.
The CDC posts the following economic costs:
- There are approximately 500,000 people living with cerebral palsy in the U.S.
- Medical costs for children with cerebral palsy are 10 times greater than for children without the condition
- Medical costs for children with cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities are 26 times greater than for children without such conditions
- CDC estimates indicate that the overall lifetime care costs of an individual with cerebral palsy tops near $1 million in combined medical, non-medical, and indirect costs
- Combining the lifetime care costs for children born in 2000 with cerebral palsy results in a staggering $11.5 billion
How to Get Financial Help for Cerebral Palsy
Families affected by cerebral palsy may experience a variety of economic, emotional, and physical distresses. It is not uncommon for parents to lose employment, or find it necessary to hire specialized caregivers. Further, home and vehicle modifications are also commonly necessary for individuals with limited mobility, or those requiring assistive aids, such as a wheelchair.
Because of the significant costs of cerebral palsy, the government and other organizations offer support and assistance for families. The U.S. government offers support and assistance in the way of affordable healthcare, economic assistance, food and nutrition assistance, tax credits, and more. Charity organizations offer additional support within local communities, such as research and resources, counseling, and networking for families.
For families believing that cerebral palsy was caused by a birth injury, it is also helpful to secure the guidance of an experienced medical negligence and birth injury attorney. The U.S. has specific guidelines in place for medical standards of care, as well as liability for healthcare providers.