Cerebral Palsy: A Guide | Tennessee Cerebral Palsy Attorneys

At Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers, we understand that finding resources for cerebral palsy can be difficult. We want to help parents know that they have resources and information available to help ensure their child will be cared for, no matter what. Knowing where to start can be one of the most difficult parts of receiving a cerebral palsy diagnosis. In order to help make the search for information easier, we’ve compiled a short list of cerebral palsy and disability-related resources in the state of Tennessee. We hope that parents will find these resources useful as they seek out answers about their child’s future care and safety.


What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a motor disorder that impacts a person’s coordination, balance, fine motor control and gross motor control. It can sometimes result in repetitive or ‘twitchy’ motions, and is often accompanied by abnormal muscle tone (muscles that are too tight or too limp). This disorder stems from brain injury and is often associated with medical malpractice.

While cerebral palsy is, by definition, strictly a disorder affecting individuals physically, it is often accompanied by cognitive, intellectual, behavioral or emotional disabilities or impairments as well. According to the CDC, approximately 60% of 8-year-old children with cerebral palsy have another developmental disability. More than 40% have intellectual disabilities, 35% have epilepsy and more than 15% have visual impairments. Approximately 25% of children with cerebral palsy have both intellectual disabilities and epilepsy.

What causes cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is caused by injury to parts of the brain that control movement. The underlying cause of this brain injury is not always known, but CP is strongly associated with medical errors during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Conditions that can cause or contribute to brain damage that triggers cerebral palsy includes:

How can cerebral palsy be prevented?

When it comes to cerebral palsy caused by medical malpractice (ie, medical mistakes), prevention entails preventing the conditions that caused or allowed the medical mistake. In medical care, there are certain standards that medical staff must follow if they are doing a particular procedure correctly. Medical errors occur when medical staff deviates from these established standards. Usually, the prevention of medical error is a combination of good communication, proper training and accountable medical systems.

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

If you’re concerned about your child’s development and believe that a doctor’s, nurse’s or other medical professional’s mistake led to your child’s injuries, the first step in securing justice and care for your child is reaching out to a birth injury attorney. The Tennessee birth injury attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers focuses solely on birth injury cases, focusing on obtaining justice for children who sustained brain damage due to medical mistakes. Unlike other firms, which might work with material as disparate as medical device malfunctions, slip-and-fall accidents, and adverse drug reactions, the birth injury attorneys at ABC Law Centers have the expensive and focused knowledge needed to successfully litigate these complex cases. We have a history of numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, and our attorneys have won many awards for their outstanding work, including being listed in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Law Firms listings, BestLawyers, SuperLawyers and the New York Times. We can provide you with a free and confidential case evaluation and explain your legal options. If you decide you would like to pursue legal options for securing your child’s future, we can go through the possibilities and help bring you peace of mind, knowing your child will be cared for – no matter what.

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Non-legal Cerebral Palsy Resources

It can be difficult knowing where to start when it comes to finding cerebral palsy and/or disability resources, as the options are highly varied and can be very different on the state, local, and national levels. To help parents with cerebral palsy begin their search for information, the birth injury attorneys at ABC Law Centers have provided a short list of potential resources that the parents of children with cerebral palsy may find useful. While this list is by no means comprehensive, we hope it will shed light on some of the organizations in your area that may help provide information and services for helping care for your child.

It is also worth noting that certain national organizations (such as the Arc, the United Way, and United Cerebral Palsy) have many local and state divisions. These groups provide many robust educational, employment, financial and support programs; because they provide such varied services, we have not listed them individually under each subheading. We encourage parents to check out these organizations, as they often are one of the best ways of finding services in a particular geographic area.

Additionally, one of the most effective ways to find local resources is to contact your city, county or regional Department of Human Services. Often, these departments have comprehensive service lists and trained staff who can assist in finding help specific to your child’s needs.

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

Governmental Organizations for Disabilities in Tennessee

Cerebral palsy and associated conditions are classified as disabilities, which mean that there are governmental offices that can help connect the families of children with disabilities with the resources they need. These programs can range from the financial (Supplemental Security Income) to the medical (Medicare and Medicaid programs) to the employment-related (The Office of Disability Employment Policy). Related programs include:

Medical/Rehabilitative Assistance Programs for Disabilities in Tennessee

Certain Tennessee hospitals and/or medical organizations have programs specifically for children and adults with cerebral palsy, disabilities and other related disorders.  These programs often supply rehabilitative services, physical therapy and other services designed to help maximize your child’s potential.

Nonprofit Organizations for Disabilities in Tennessee

Tennessee has numerous non-profit organizations (such as United Cerebral Palsy) devoted to helping individuals with cerebral palsy and other disabilities. These non-profit organizations can often help point parents to local service providers. It is also useful to note that such organizations have branches in numerous smaller regions or counties.

  • United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) provides durable medical and adaptive equipment to individuals with disabilities regardless of diagnosis, among other services.
  • Support and Training for Exceptional Parents (STEP) provides training and information to help parents of children with disabilities develop IEPs, understand and work around systemic changes in the educational system, and coordinate services for their children.
  • Brain Injury Tennessee provides a listing of local and statewide disability-related resources.

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

There are many programs available to help develop children with disabilities achieve their full potential. Programs are available for many ages, ranging from infancy to adulthood. Depending on your child’s age and needs, the services you may search for may differ. For example:

  • For children 0-3, services are available to help develop your child’s potential. These services result in the creation of an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) that can help your child transition to a school environment.
    • Tennessee Early Intervention programs can be found at tn.gov.
  • For older children, Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are made in conjunction with the student’s teachers, psychologists, and other professional staff to help develop a plan to maximize the child’s abilities in an academic setting. Most IEP-related services are provided through a child’s local school district.
  • For adult children or those who are about to transition into adulthood, there are programs that can help maximize independence or learn pre-employment skills. For those who require additional support, other programs that focus on community integration, life skills development and socialization are available through day programs, community-based programs and residential communities.
    • Tennessee Family Solutions provides supported living housing services and individualized planning for individuals with disabilities.
    • OPTIONS for Community Living provide home care services and delivered meals.
    • HATS Tennessee provides job coaching and job placement for individuals referred to the organization by the Vocational Rehabilitation offices.
    • Tennessee Support Solutions provides a variety of services including supported living, respite care, residential habilitation, personal assistance, community-based day, family model residential, supported employment and behavioral services in Memphis, Jackson, Bolivar, Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga and Greeneville.
    • TennesseeWorks helps young people with disabilities find employment.

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

Resources related to employment and housing can vary significantly depending on geographic location, the individual’s skills and abilities, and other factors. Some programs provide supported employment options or supported living services, while other programs provide 24-hour care. Local outposts of national organizations are often some of the best places to begin the search. Often, organizations that provide supported employment also provide resources for housing and vice versa. Other resources include:

  • The Social Security Ticket to Work program assists individuals with disabilities in finding meaningful employment.
  • The Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Employment First program provides training and networking for individuals with disabilities.
  • Nashville I/DD Housing provides housing and other resources to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their website also maintains a list of local Tennessee service providers related to education, therapy, employment and other life concerns.
  • Tucker’s House partners with families that need to retrofit their homes to make their homes safe and accessible. They also provide lists of organizations, therapy services and financial assistance programs.
  • Mid-Tennessee Supported Living provides Supported Living Services for individuals with disabilities, as well as supported employment, community-based day services, personal assistance and nursing care.
  • While not strictly Tennessee-based, the Department of Education’s’ School-to-Work program provides valuable information on the transition to adulthood.

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

  • SRVS in Memphis, Tennessee is a nonprofit United Way of the Mid-South agency that provides residential, employment, clinical and learning center services programs for many populations, including kids and families, adults, and the elderly.
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America provides individuals with learning disabilities with support, advocacy, resources, and other benefits.
  • BlueCare Tennessee provides a listing of assistance programs for adult foster care, child care, disabilities, dental care, elder care, food and housing help, and support groups, among other resources.