It’s easy to distrust doctors when something happens to your child. You ask yourself if this same event would have occurred if you chose a different doctor or pediatrician, if you chose a different hospital to have your baby at, or if you had done something else differently. Even though you may have a justifiable mistrust of doctors, most are experienced and dedicated professionals who will work on getting your baby diagnosed and make sure that they can do everything they can to improve the child’s way of life. Some doctors devote their practice to solely serving children with cerebral palsy.
What Should My Doctor Do For My Child With Cerebral Palsy?
The first step a cerebral palsy doctor takes is generally to ensure that your child is correctly diagnosed with the disorder. There are many other disorders that mimic cerebral palsy, but thorough testing and imaging will indicate if your child indeed has cerebral palsy, and will also help uncover any other underlying medical issues.
Referrals to Other Medical Professionals
Once your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, most doctors will assess each individual situation and refer to you other specialists, such as physical therapists and occupational therapists, who can assist your child with daily life skills, muscle control, coordination, and movement. In some instances, a cerebral palsy doctor will refer parents and/or guardians to dietitians who specifically specialize in menu-planning and nutrition for babies and children with cerebral palsy.
One of the primary roles of a cerebral palsy doctor is to ensure that each patient receives the most beneficial medical treatment and care. Treatment options will vary according to how severe the disorder is, as well as any additional disabilities. For example, some children with cerebral palsy experience seizures. Therefore, a doctor may prescribe anti-seizure medication and suggest adaptive equipment, such as helmets for head support, while working towards getting the seizures under control.
Many children with cerebral palsy also experience respiratory problems, including asthma, breathing problems, respiratory distress, and much more. Treatment will depend upon the type of respiratory problems, but cerebral palsy generally create individualized treatment plans to help their patients control these issues.
Other forms of disabilities and medical issues that may affect children with cerebral palsy, and in turn will need treatment include:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Skin issues
- Vision and hearing problems
- Sensory impairment
Some children may also require surgical treatment, which may include:
- Hip repair
- Tendon lengthening
- Limb realignment
- Selective posterior rhizotomy
Your doctor should be working closely with your child, particularly in the first 2-4 years of his or her life to determine the long-term prognosis. Some infants have a 95% chance of living past age 20, whereas some children only have a 40% chance. By your doctor working closely with you and your baby, you will have a better idea of a prognosis the closer to 4 years of age the child gets.
There Are Good Doctors Out There
While some cases of cerebral palsy are directly attributed to birth injuries and a doctor’s malpractice, it’s important to keep in mind that most doctors have their patients’ best interest in mind and will work diligently to ensure that your child has the best treatment options available.
In fact, there are teams of doctors that are not only devoted to caring for children with cerebral palsy, but have devoted their careers to finding a finding a cure for it. There are even some doctors who were born with cerebral palsy themselves, who have overcome many of the limitations (for the most part), and who work to actively improve the lives of children.
What Kind of Doctors Help?
There are a few different kinds of doctors and specialists that your child will need to see as a child with cerebral palsy. It’s rather expected that your child would need to see a pediatrician, but other doctors your child may see include a:
- Developmental behaviorial specialist
The aforementioned medical professionals work towards determining what kind of cerebral palsy your child may have and to what degree, and they work on assessing what kind of behavioral or developmental stages are missed (if they’re missed), and what that could indicate for your child’s overall prognosis.