Transition to adulthood difficult for Canadian teenagers with cerebral palsy
A piece in the Vancouver Sun drew attention to how quality-of-life needs become greater for teenagers with cerebral palsy who are transitioning from childhood care networks to adult care networks. Many parents of children with CP think about the costs in the short term, but the truth is that because medical networks are often ill-equipped to handle the needs of young adults with cerebral palsy, costs often go up at the critical juncture of adulthood.
Causes and symptoms of cerebral palsy
A statistical report from the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children showcases the wide range of disabilities caused by cerebral palsy, including but not limited to epilepsy, musculoskeletal problems, and “disturbances of sensation, perception, cognition, communication and behaviour.” Deterioration tends to increase with age, meaning that the costs involved with care may go up as the condition progresses. It is among the most severe birth injuries, affecting two to three babies out of every 1,000, according to the Sunny Hill Health Centre. The Vancouver Sun reports that CP affects approximately 10,000 individuals in British Columbia alone.
The statistics report suggests that disturbances in the fetal or infant brain are among the leading causes of cerebral palsy. These may have resulted due to medical mishaps or malpractice.
Lack of government services for those with CP
According to the Vancouver Sun, children with cerebral palsy in BC rely on a strong support system of social workers and medical professionals to provide appropriate educational support and physical therapy. While this robust pediatric support team-based approach may significantly improve the quality of life for children with CP in the province, it vanishes abruptly once a teen with CP turns 18. There is no system in adulthood that carries over this intensive and beneficial care, despite the fact that the condition tends to stay the same or worsen over time. Families interviewed in the Sun piece reported that they just muddled through the process of trying to find jobs, therapy and support for themselves and their family members with CP.
The fact that there is so little support makes it clear that when seeking compensation in claims that medical professionals caused cerebral palsy due to malpractice, it is important to take a long-term perspective. Some of the issues faced by adults with cerebral palsy include the need or desire to get a job and income, remain mobile and live independent lives. This can be more financially challenging for those with CP, making compensation all the more important to help them live full, satisfying lives in the absence of the extensive support program they may have had the benefit of working with as children.
The role of a malpractice lawyer
A medical malpractice lawyer can sit down with families of those born with cerebral palsy due to a birth injury caused by medical negligence and go over what it takes to build a strong case and obtain compensation. A lawyer is a family’s chief advocate in court and can help plan compensation amounts, legal strategies and other details about the case. Families can also consult with lawyers about legal and financial concerns faced by children with cerebral palsy at various future junctures in their lives.
(Posted February 2, 2015)