Cerebral Palsy: A Guide | Mississippi Cerebral Palsy Attorneys

At Reiter & Walsh, P.C., we sometimes find that it can be difficult for parents to find organizations and services for their children, especially when they have recently just received their child’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy and are just beginning the search for information. To help make the search less overwhelming, we hope to provide a short list of resources for parents in the state of Mississippi that may be helpful in securing their child’s care.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a motor disorder and disability that impacts a person’s physical abilities, which can include mobility, balance and coordination, gross and fine motor control, muscle tension, and spasticity. While the disorder is non-progressive (the injury does not get worse as time goes on), it does require active management to prevent a range of complications, such as contractures and joint damage.

While cerebral palsy is a motor disorder, it does stem from an underlying brain injury. Because brain injury is not always localized to a single area, this means that individuals with cerebral palsy may also have other related conditions, which can be behavioral, cognitive, orthopedic, developmental, sensory, visual or hearing-related. Cerebral palsy can also cause pain and indirectly impact oral health, neurological health, respiratory health, nutritional health, skin health, and digestive health. The care of a child with cerebral palsy must be carefully managed with 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. In many cases, this brain injury is strongly associated with medical malpractice that causes oxygen deprivation to a baby’s brain shortly before, during or after labor and delivery. This oxygen deprivation can vary in severity and duration, which means that each case of cerebral palsy can look different. Oxygen deprivation in a baby can stem from multiple factors, such as:

How can cerebral palsy be prevented?

Medical malpractice-related cerebral palsy is preventable, as it is caused by errors committed by medical professionals, who are trusted by their patients to provide medical services according to predetermined standards of care. 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. 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.

How do I get legal help to 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 trained birth injury attorney can identify as a deviation from the standard of care. 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.

Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers has the extensive medical and legal knowledge needed to successfully litigate complex birth injury cases. We have a track record of multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, and our attorneys have won many awards for their outstanding work.  We can provide you with a free and confidential case evaluation to determine whether medical malpractice occurred in your child’s case. If you decide you would like to pursue legal options for securing your child’s future and obtaining justice, we can go through the possibilities and help bring you peace of mind by knowing that your child’s future is taken care of, no matter what.

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Non-legal Cerebral Palsy Resources

The resources available in each state for parents of children with cerebral palsy or disabilities can vary significantly, depending on numerous factors, including 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 (such as United Cerebral Palsy) or non-profit service providers that have national presences (such as United Way), 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. Because of this, we have not included these large organizations in each individual category below.

How do I get financial or medical help for my child with cerebral palsy in Mississippi?

Governmental Organizations for Disabilities in Mississippi

One of the most prominent providers of disability-related services is 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.

Medical/Rehabilitative Assistance Programs for Disabilities in Mississippi

Many children’s hospitals and other large facilities have services specifically tailored to the needs of children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy. These programs often provide these children with rehabilitative and adaptive services, equipment and therapy.

Nonprofit Organizations for Disabilities in Mississippi

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. These nonprofits can provide care ranging from child care to adult care to residential services. 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 (reachable at 251.479.4900) provides various cerebral palsy-related services in Mississippi.
  • The CP Network maintains a list of cerebral palsy resources in Mississippi.
  • The Arc Mississippi provides advocacy, employment, education and other training resources for individuals with disabilities, as well as a list of useful links to outside service providers.
  • The Special Needs Resource Project maintains a 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.

How can I get my child educational help or early intervention in Mississippi?

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 school.
  • 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 level of an individual’s disability, different 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. Individuals with more severe disabilities may have the option of day programs or residential communities (such as those described below), often provided through referral by governmental organizations to nonprofits.

Where can I find employment or housing resources for individuals with cerebral palsy in Mississippi?

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:

  • Disability Connection (in Gulfport, Mississippi) assists individuals with disabilities in finding and retaining employment.
  • Partnerships in Employment is a statewide organization that seeks to help young individuals with I/DD find employment and transition to adult life.
  • The Mississippi Department of Employment Security assists individuals with physical and/or cognitive disabilities find work through the Job Accommodation Network.
  • REM Mississippi provides day service, pre-vocational training and home and community support programs for individuals with disabilities.

Other useful cerebral palsy and disability-related resources in Mississippi:

  • Wrightslaw, a disability-related legal firm, maintains a ‘yellow pages’ database of Mississippi resources for children with disabilities.