River Steinman has spastic cerebral palsy, or spastic diplegia. The cerebral palsy affects his legs, so River uses a walker and crutches to move throughout the school and in his kindergarten classroom. A special chair with arm rests was created for him to use in class. When kids in the class gather for floor activities, River sits in a chair that is next to a container so his feet can stay propped up since the little boy has trouble bending his legs due to the stiffness or spasticity in his muscles.
Since River has cerebral palsy (CP), his brain sends the wrong messages to his body. This means that River has problems with muscle function, movement, balance, posture and coordination. The spastic cerebral palsy makes River’s muscles extra tense. Normally, muscles coordinate in pairs, so when one group of muscles tightens the other group relaxes. This allows free movement. In spastic cerebral palsy, signals from the brain to the nerves to the muscles get mixed up and there is no balance in muscle tension among different muscle groups. Too many muscles become active at the same time, which prevents coordinated movement. Thus, the muscles in children with spastic cerebral palsy are constantly stiff or spastic. River’s spastic muscles cause him to have stiff, jerky movements.
The main difference between spastic diplegia cerebral palsy and normal body movement is the “scissor gait.” River has a scissor gait, so when he walks, his knees cross and sometimes touch, his hips and pelvis often become locked, making it appear as though he is crouching, his ankles turn inwards, and he frequently appears to be walking on his tip toes.
In spastic cerebral palsy, the degree of spasticity varies widely from child to child. Balance problems and/or stiffness in gait can range from barely noticeable to problems so pronounced that the child needs crutches or a cane to assist in being upright. Spasticity can be so severe that the child has to use a wheelchair to get around. Above the hips, children with spastic diplegia typically have near-normal muscle tone and range of motion, though some spasticity may also affect the upper body. Additionally, because leg tightness often leads to instability when in an upright position, extra muscle tension usually develops in the upper body, shoulders and arms due to the upper body trying to compensate for the instability of the lower body.
The Adventures Of A Boy With Cerebral Palsy
River has pronounced spastic cerebral palsy and he has written a book with his teacher to help spread information about his condition. The book is filled with pictures. It chronicles River’s everyday struggles and adventures. He couldn’t walk at all and was completely reliant on a wheelchair until he had a fairly new surgery called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) at age 3. After the surgery, River did intense physical therapy and was able to begin walking with assistance by 5 years of age. River’s mother believes that River has no limitations and she instills that belief in her son. The book shows River’s many hobbies, and River’s classmates were delighted to hear about his tap dance lessons and how he frequently goes horseback riding as part of his therapy. River even considers it an adventure to visit his surgeon in St. Louis for week-long trips.
River also wrote about how he has to struggle with daily activities that most people take for granted. Getting dressed can be a chore since the cerebral palsy means that River’s muscles don’t cooperate. Sometimes moving around with his crutches or walker takes a lot of energy and makes River very tired. The energy required to move around makes it extra important for River to take in a lot of calories and nutrients. Regardless of some of his struggles, River is always smiling. River’s therapist says that River is fantastic and his constant smile brightens her days.
River’s teacher hopes that sharing the book about cerebral palsy with students will help teach them about diversity how important it is. Indeed, River is a very unique little boy whose enthusiasm for even simple things makes all of us smile.
What Are The Treatments For Cerebral Palsy?
We have written extensively about cerebral palsy treatments, therapies and activities. The impairment caused by cerebral palsy can be managed in many ways, and recent breakthroughs in surgical treatments, therapy and technology have made amazing things possible for children who have CP. Every child has a unique set of impairments, so it is very important to find a cerebral palsy program that has specialists from a wide range of fields.
Cerebral palsy treatments, therapies and activities include the following:
- Activities such as swimming and horseback riding (hippotherapy)
- Botox injections for tight muscles
- Surgery, such as selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR)
- Tendon release surgery
- Conductive education
- Electrical stimulation
- Chiropractic Intervention
- Sensory integration therapy
- Nutrition and diet plan counseling
- Adapted yoga
- Massage therapy
- Physical therapy, which includes range of motion exercises, stretching, progressive resistance exercises, and postural and motor control exercises
- ULTRA Program (a task specific training program)
- Speech therapy
- Recreational therapy
- Eye surgery for conditions such as strabismus
- Baclofen pump implantation to provide the child with continuous muscle relaxants
- Medications, such as seizure medication and oral muscle relaxants
- Occupational therapy
- CHAMP Program (Comprehensive Hand & Arm Movement Program)
- Sports programs, such as Miracle League Baseball for children with just about any disability
- ACE Lab (Adaptive Cognitive Testing)
- Special camps
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
There are many conditions that can occur during or near the time of birth that, if mismanaged, can cause cerebral palsy. Most often, these conditions involve a lack of oxygen in the baby’s brain that causes a brain injury called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Mismanaged conditions that can deprive an unborn baby of oxygen include placental abruption, uterine rupture, umbilical cord prolapse, nuchal cord (cord wrapped around the baby’s neck), brain bleeds caused by forceps or vacuum extractors, and failure to recognize fetal distress on the fetal heart rate monitor. Improperly treated neonatal hypoglycemia or jaundice (abnormally high bilirubin), or in infection in the mother that travels to the baby at birth, can also cause cerebral palsy. When a baby is showing signs of distress, it means she is being deprived of oxygen and must be delivered very quickly. Most of the time, a cesarean (C-section) delivery is the fastest and safest way to deliver a baby who is in distress.
Cerebral Palsy Lawyers Helping Children Who Have Birth Injuries, Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy, And Cerebral Palsy
When you need the help of a birth injury lawyer, it is very important to choose a lawyer and firm that focuses only on birth injury cases. Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is a national birth injury law firm that has been helping children for over two decades. Cerebral palsy lawyer Jesse Reiter, the president and co-founder of the firm, has been focusing solely on birth injury cases for 25 years, and most of his cases involve cerebral palsy. Jesse is currently recognized as one of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2014, which also recognized ABC Law Centers as one of the best medical malpractice law firms in the nation. The lawyers at ABC Law Centers have won numerous awards for their advocacy of children and are members of the Birth Trauma Litigation Group (BTLG) and the Michigan Association for Justice (MAJ).
If your child was diagnosed with a permanent disability, such as cerebral palsy, a seizure disorder, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), intellectual disabilities or developmental delays, the award winning lawyers at ABC Law Centers can help. We have helped children throughout the country obtain compensation for lifelong treatment, therapy and a secure future, and we give personal attention to each child and family we represent. Our nationally recognized firm has numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success and no fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case. Email or call Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers at 888-419-2229 for a free case evaluation. The award winning lawyers from our firm are available 24/7 to speak with you.