Cerebral Palsy: A Guide | Pennsylvania Cerebral Palsy Attorneys

The Pennsylvania cerebral palsy attorneys at ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.) hope to help parents gain the information and resources they need to ensure their children will be cared for, no matter what. Whether you’re located in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Erie, Lancaster, Harrisburg, or another Pennsylvania town, we’re here to walk you through your questions. A cerebral palsy diagnosis is often accompanied by many unanswered questions, and parents can sometimes find it difficult to know where to start. While the following information is by no means comprehensive, it can be a good starting point for the beginning of a deeper search for answers.


What is cerebral palsy?

Pennsylvania Cerebral Palsy Resources | Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Erie, Lancaster, Harrisburg

Cerebral palsy is a motor disorder, i.e. it involves issues with movement and coordination. It is considered non-progressive, which means the injury that caused the disorder doesn’t get worse, or better, with time. There are multiple kinds of cerebral palsy, and they can look somewhat different (1):

  • Spastic cerebral palsy is characterized by muscle tightness, spasms, and involuntary muscle contractions.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy is characterized by uncoordinated movements. It is often confused with ataxia, a rare neurodegenerative disease, but it is not progressive.
  • Athetoid/dyskinetic cerebral palsy (ADCP) may involve frequent changes in muscle tone (varying from too tight to too loose). It also often includes repetitive movements, which may be jerky or slow and writhing.

What causes cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is caused by brain injury to the motor control centers, the parts of the brain that control movement. The underlying cause of this brain injury is not known in a subset of cases, but cerebral palsy is often strongly associated with birth injury resulting from medical malpractice. Conditions that can cause or contribute to brain damage that triggers cerebral palsy include:

While cerebral palsy may only involve motor impairment, there are some conditions that are associated with cerebral palsy/can also be caused by birth injury. These include intellectual disabilities (occurring in about 50% of people with CP) and epilepsy (occurring in about 25-45% of people with CP) (1).


How can cerebral palsy be prevented?

Cerebral palsy cases associated with medical malpractice are by definition caused by a medical mistake. Medical errors are preventable, and they occur when a medical staff member or organization deviates from the standards of care they should adhere to when treating a patient. Prevention of medical errors is a complex topic, but generally involves medical professionals understanding and applying standards of care properly, and ensuring good communication between the medical staff responsible for a patient’s care.


How do I get legal help to pay for my child’s cerebral palsy care?

Because malpractice can often play a strong causative role in a child’s cerebral palsy, it is important to speak with an attorney if you suspect their CP may have stemmed from a medical error around the time of birth. It is important to do so promptly, since there is something called a “statute of limitations” on birth injury cases. This is a certain time frame (determined by state or federal law) under which parents can pursue a legal case.

Pennsylvania Cerebral Palsy Attorneys | Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, and More

The Pennsylvania cerebral palsy attorneys at ABC Law Centers focus solely on birth injuries, unlike other firms that split their attention between such topics as birth injury, medical device failures, and adverse drug reactions. Our focus and deep knowledge of birth injury allow us to successfully litigate these medically complex cases, as seen by our extensive list of multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements. We have also won many awards from prestigious legal organizations, and have glowing client testimonials that further attest to our success.  Please reach out to us for a free and confidential case evaluation. If you choose to pursue a case with us, you will not be charged unless we win, and we will vigorously fight to secure your child’s future care.

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Non-legal cerebral palsy resources

The following is a short list of cerebral palsy and disability resources available in Pennsylvania, compiled by the Pennsylvania cerebral palsy attorneys at ABC Law Centers. While it is by no means comprehensive, it provides a starting point for seeking needed services and can provide an idea of the depth and breadth of offered programs. It is worth noting that many of the larger organizations, including state programs, the United Way, the Arc Pennsylvania, and United Cerebral Palsy provide numerous programs in education, financial assistance, legal information, and other services, even though they are not listed under each sub-heading.

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

Governmental organizations for cerebral palsy and disabilities in Pennsylvania

Parents who have a child with cerebral palsy often have access to state and/or federal assistance programs that are developed to help cover medical costs, equipment costs, and other financial considerations. Often, individuals with disabilities have access to Medicare/Medicaid to cover some portion of the costs of healthcare, and can sometimes receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if their disabilities do not allow them to work.

Hospital assistance programs for disabilities in Pennsylvania

Certain hospitals also have specialized programs designed to help children and adults with disabilities. One of the most effective ways to find resources on a local level is to contact your city, county, or regional Department of Human Services; often these organizations have comprehensive service lists and trained staff who can assist in finding help specific to your child’s needs.

  • Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania): The Cerebral Palsy and Related Disorders Program provides comprehensive coordinated services to infants, children, and young adults with CP. In addition to their main location, the program has four rural sub-branches in Uniontown, Indiana, Beaver and New Castle.
  • The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania): This facility has an Adult Spasticity Center which specializes in treating spasticity from neurological disorders.

Nonprofit organizations for disabilities in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania also has a sizable number of non-profit organizations devoted to helping people with cerebral palsy. These include United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) as well as several other organizations. These organizations often have robust connections to service providers throughout the state and can connect people to needed services. Some of them (such as UCP), have multiple branches in different localities, so it may be useful to reach out to them to see what resources are available:

  • Blossom Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): Provides a resource directory for medical, legal, recreational, human service, transportation, and social development programs.
  • The United Cerebral Palsy Resource Center (Scranton, Pennsylvania): This division in Northeastern Pennsylvania helps individuals who need assistive equipment receive training, equipment, and evaluation.
  • The United Way of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania): This organization has numerous branches throughout the state, and provides services ranging from early education to financial assistance.

Other resources that provide information regarding financial assistance include the Need Help Paying Bills resource guide to financial assistance.


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

Educational resources in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Erie, and other Pennsylvania cities

Pennsylvania Cerebral Palsy Resources

Educational resources can vary depending on your child’s age, abilities, and other considerations. If a child is very young (under the age of three), there are Early Intervention programs available to help your child’s developmental delays and maximize their potential. These children often have IFSP (Individualized Family Service Plans) that can outline the child’s needs and develop a plan to help the child transition into a school environment.

If a child is older than age three, this is the stage where school becomes an important resource in the child’s development. If the child has developmental delays or disabilities, it is their legal right to get support from the public school system through the development and execution of an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This document outlines the child’s needed resources, goals, and a plan for their education. When students with IEPs transition to adulthood, there are programs in place to help them maximize their independence and learn valuable pre-vocational skills. For individuals who require additional support, there are programs (such as adult day programs, community-based programs, and residential communities) designed to increase community integration, life skills development, socialization, and pre-vocational skill training.

  • Pennsylvania 211 has a listing of 142 Early Intervention programs throughout the state.
  • UCP of Central Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania) provides a wide range of adult day programs, as well as in-home and community supports, supported employment resources, and residential services. They also provide comprehensive resources for individuals with physical disabilities.
  • The CADES program (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania) provides Early Intervention Services, special education schooling for ages 3-21, adult day programs, residential services, and transportation programs.
  • The Allegheny County Early Intervention Resource and the Allegheny Family Network guides provide county residents with early educational information and services. They also have resource listings for neighboring counties, including Armstrong County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Greene County, Indiana County, Lawrence County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
  • The National Association of Private Special Education Centers has a national listing of private special education groups.
  • The Lebanon School District website (Lebanon, Pennsylvania) provides a listing of both location-specific and statewide disability-related education resources.
  • Federation Early Learning Services (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) provides parent education, early childhood awareness programs, and community information.
  • The HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) provides education, therapies, and transition programs for children with cerebral palsy.
  • Wayne County Office of Behavioral and Developmental Programs and Early Intervention (Honesdale, Pennsylvania and Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania) provides information regarding local resources for early intervention.
  • Penn State (University Park, Pennsylvania) provides Literacy Instruction for individuals with disabilities, including cerebral palsy.
  • Lancaster County (Lancaster County, Pennsylvania) provides a resource guide for disabilities of various types, including cerebral palsy.

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

The kind of employment services available to an individual can vary vastly depending on their abilities, desires, and resource availability in their area. Often, local outposts of such organizations as United Cerebral Palsy are some of the best resources to consult. Other examples of local resources include:

  • Chesco.org: A database of supported living services and other human resources listings in Chester County. This site works in conjunction with the Cerebral Palsy Association of Chester County (Exton, Pennsylvania), which provides adult services.
  • Works For Me PA provides employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, along with the Arc (Scranton, Pennsylvania), KenCrest (Blue Bell, Pennsylvania), as well as the service providers on the Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services’ website. UDS Services (Lancaster County, Pennsylvania) also provides matching services to individuals referred by the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

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


Pennsylvania cerebral palsy attorneysReiter & Walsh, PC | Birth Trauma Attorneys

At ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.), we focus exclusively on cases involving cerebral palsy and other birth injuries. We have secured millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients all over the United States, and serve as active members and leaders in groups such as the Birth Trauma Litigation Group, the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, the American Association for Justice, and more.

Feel free to reach out to our Pennsylvania cerebral palsy attorneys if you suspect that your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical malpractice. We would be happy to provide you with a free consultation and help you explore your legal options for securing your child’s future. The consultation is completely free and confidential; in fact, the entire legal process is free of charge unless we win your case.

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Sources

Cerebral Palsy Attorneys | Birth Injury Lawyers. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://www.abclawcenters.com/practice-areas/types-of-birth-injuries/cerebral-palsy/