We find that it can be difficult for parents to find organizations, services and resources for their child with cerebral palsy – especially when they have recently received their child’s diagnosis and are just beginning the search for information. To help make their search less overwhelming, we’ve provided a short list of resources for Mississippi parents that may be helpful in securing their child’s care.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a disability that impacts a person’s mobility, balance, coordination, muscle tension, and spasticity, as well as gross and fine motor control. While the disorder is non-progressive (the injury does not get worse as time goes on), it requires active management to prevent a range of complications.
The care of a child with cerebral palsy must be carefully managed with treatments involving a multi-specialist care team, which can include orthopedic specialists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and other experts.
What causes cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy is caused by an underlying brain injury that impacts the parts of the brain that control motor function. Brain injuries are not typically localized to a single lobe, meaning that individuals with cerebral palsy may also have other related behavioral, cognitive, orthopedic, developmental, sensory, visual or hearing-related conditions.
Brain injury can be the result of oxygen deprivation to a baby’s brain shortly before, during or after labor and delivery. The amount of time that the baby is without oxygen can vary in severity and duration, which means that each case of cerebral palsy can look different.
This injury can stem from multiple factors, including:
- Delivery complications
- Abnormal fetal presentation
- Fetal or neonatal stroke
- Forceps or vacuum extractor use in delivery
- Underlying maternal health issues, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or maternal infection
- Umbilical cord, uterine, or placental issues, such as placental abruption, short cord, nuchal cord, knotted cord, prolapsed cord, or uterine rupture
- Hydrocephalus (‘water on the brain’) or periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)
- NICU complications and errors, such as infant infections, sepsis, infant seizures, neonatal breathing problems, and neonatal hypoglycemia
- Hyperbilirubinemia, Jaundice and Kernicterus
- Meconium Aspiration Syndrome (MAS)
- Premature rupture of membranes (‘water breaking early’)
Can cerebral palsy be prevented?
Cerebral palsy is often preventable. Preventing medical errors is a systemic endeavor and involves many moving parts, including clear communication between medical staff, proper training, and the development of accountable medical systems. In order to do so, doctors, nurses, midwives and other members of the medical care team are required to meet a certain standard of care in order to prevent injury or harm to an expectant mother and her baby.
Medical personnel are responsible for:
- Providing proper prenatal care and recognizing risk factors for birth injury/cerebral palsy
- Taking actions to prevent birth injury or cerebral palsy (special caution must be taken if risk factors are present)
When medical professionals deviate from those standards, it increases the risk that a child will be injured. Especially with birth injuries, deviations from the standards of care can cause permanent and often severe problems which can impact a child’s health throughout their lifespan.
Can legal help pay for my child’s cerebral palsy care?
If your child is not hitting their developmental milestones as expected, it may be worthwhile to speak to a Mississippi birth injury attorney about investigating the care you and your child received during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Sometimes, there are events that occur that parents may not be able to identify as medical malpractice, but a well-trained birth injury attorney can identify deviations from the standard of care and potential instances of medical malpractice. This means that parents can choose to file a lawsuit to access funds for their child’s future care and be secure in knowing that their child will have access to the care they need, no matter what.
Local Mississippi Cerebral Palsy Resources
The resources available in each state for parents of children with cerebral palsy or disabilities can vary significantly, depending on geographic location, funding availability, the specific disability the child has, and how different programs are administered. One way to find services for cerebral palsy and associated disabilities is to seek out larger national disability-related organizations or non-profit service providers that have national presences and find out if they have state or local branches in your area. Large organizations like these often provide a wide range of services, including education, therapy, adaptive equipment, vocational training, housing support, and financial assistance.
Educational Help and/or Early Intervention
Programs are available for both children and adults with disabilities that aim to help them achieve their full potential, whether it be through early intervention programs or through supported employment services:
Early Intervention Services are available for children ages 0-3. These services aim to provide rehabilitative, occupational and therapeutic care to maximize a child’s potential and help them succeed later in life. These programs involve the development of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which aims to help your child move smoothly into preschool.
Once children are school-age, parents, educators and other professionals work together to develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Resources for IEP planning are usually found on the school-district level, so parents should consult their local school district’s special needs program administrator.
Depending on the severity of an individual’s disability, various programs are available when they complete schooling. Often, places of higher education will have supportive programs for individuals with disabilities who wish to continue their education. For those seeking employment, ‘supported employment’ and ‘supported living’ programs are available to teach pre-vocational skills and provide a safe living environment.
Employment and housing resources for adults with CP
Depending on geographic location, an individual’s skills and abilities, and other factors, an individual’s options for employment and housing may vary. Some programs provide individuals with supported employment, while others provide 24-hour skilled nursing care:
The most prominent providers of disability-related services are the federal and/or state governments. Programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicare, Medicaid, and various state offices such as the Office of Human Services, Department of Education, and state Developmental Disabilities programs can help individuals with disabilities obtain needed resources and information.
- The Southeast ADA Center provides information about disabilities and adaptive equipment to individuals in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The Center also maintains a Mississippi-specific resource list of available ADA resources.
- The Mississippi Department of Rehabilitative Services provides services, including rehabilitation, assistive technology, vocational rehabilitation, and other programs for individuals with disabilities.
- Disability Rights Mississippi provides protection and advocacy services to Mississippi residents.
- The Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities provides grant funding for various disability-related initiatives in the state of Mississippi.
- The Mississippi Department of Mental Health provides services to those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, including community support services, diagnostic and evaluation services, early intervention, work activity, employment services, and home and community-based (HCBS) ID/DD waiver services.
Medical Facilities with Rehabilitative Assistance Programs for Disabilities
Many children’s hospitals and other large facilities in Mississippi have services specifically tailored to the needs of children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy. Their programs provide children with rehabilitative and adaptive services, equipment and therapy:
- Mississippi Project Start (Jackson, Mississippi)
- TK Martin Center at Mississippi State University
- Methodist Rehabilitation Center (which also offers a state resource guide)
- North Mississippi Regional Center (Oxford, Mississippi)
- Technology Learning Center (Hattiesburg, Mississippi) provides assistance, training and equipment loans to individuals with disabilities
- Children’s Hospital of Mississippi provides rehabilitation services as well as orthotics and prosthetics
Nonprofit Organizations Supporting People with Disabilities
Mississippi has a sizable number of non-profit organizations devoted to helping children and adults with cerebral palsy learn, thrive and enjoy recreational and educational opportunities. Oftentimes, these organizations are often great resources for parents, as they can point parents towards other service providers they network with.
- United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile provides various cerebral palsy-related services such as adult day programs, a preschool and a children’s summer camp, Camp SMILE.
- The Arc Mississippi provides advocacy, employment, education and other training resources for individuals with disabilities.
- The Special Needs Resource Project maintains a robust database of disability-related links in the state of Mississippi, including contact information for organizations and individuals who can assist with advocacy, assistive technology, child care, early intervention, education, employment, housing, insurance and legal assistance, recreation, transportation and parental support, among other resources.
About ABC Law Centers
Attorneys at ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.) focus solely on birth injury cases and have a network of renowned medical, economic and forensics experts at our side. Our attorneys are consistently recognized for their hard work in the birth injury arena and we have an extensive track record in providing services to families affected by birth injuries. We provide personalized attention to our clients and keep them informed throughout each step of the legal process. We do not charge any fees for the entire legal process unless we win.