Get In Touch

Understanding and Navigating Cerebral Palsy: From Diagnosis to Legal Support


Welcome to our comprehensive guide on cerebral palsy, crafted to provide essential information and support for families embarking on this journey. From understanding the condition’s intricacies to managing its challenges and seeking legal recourse, Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors (‘HJA’) are here to offer empathy, guidance, and expertise every step of the way.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of lifelong neurological disorders that affect movement, posture, and muscle coordination. It stems from abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain, typically occurring before or during birth.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. It is caused by abnormal development or damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, balance, and posture. CP can manifest as a wide spectrum of motor impairments, ranging from mild to severe, and may also be associated with other conditions such as intellectual disabilities, seizures, and sensory impairments.

How is Cerebral Palsy Caused?

(a) Before Birth: Various factors, such as infections, genetic conditions, or maternal health issues, can contribute to cerebral palsy before birth.

(b) During Birth: Oxygen deprivation, trauma, or complications during labour and delivery can lead to cerebral palsy.

  • Before Birth
    While the exact causes of cerebral palsy are often unknown, factors such as maternal infections, exposure to toxins or drugs during pregnancy, genetic abnormalities, and placental abnormalities can contribute to brain damage before birth.
  • During Birth
    Oxygen deprivation (hypoxia or asphyxia) during labour and delivery is a significant risk factor for cerebral palsy. This can occur due to complications such as umbilical cord compression, placental abruption, or prolonged labour.

Is My Child at Increased Risk of Cerebral Palsy?

Factors like premature birth, low birth weight, multiple births, or maternal health issues may increase the risk of cerebral palsy. However, many cases occur without identifiable risk factors.

Certain factors increase the risk of cerebral palsy, including premature birth, low birth weight, multiple births (twins, triplets), maternal infections during pregnancy, maternal health conditions such as thyroid disorders or diabetes, and exposure to toxins or medications during pregnancy. However, it’s important to note that many children with cerebral palsy are born to mothers without any identifiable risk factors.

What are the Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?

Symptoms vary widely depending on the type and severity of cerebral palsy but may include muscle stiffness, poor coordination, involuntary movements, delayed milestones, and difficulties with speech or vision.

Common symptoms include muscle stiffness (spasticity), poor coordination, involuntary movements (dyskinesia), tremors, delayed developmental milestones (such as crawling, walking, or speaking), difficulty with fine motor skills, and challenges with balance and posture.

Are there different types of Cerebral Palsy?

Yes, cerebral palsy is categorized into several types based on the type of movement disorder, the areas of the brain affected and the resulting symptoms. These include spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, and mixed types:

  • Spastic CP: Characterized by muscle stiffness and difficulty with movement.
  • Dyskinetic CP: Involves involuntary, uncontrollable movements.
  • Ataxic CP: Affects balance and coordination.
  • Mixed CP: Involves a combination of symptoms from different types.

How is Cerebral Palsy Classified?

The Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) categorizes individuals with cerebral palsy based on their mobility and functional abilities, ranging from Level I (independent mobility) to Level V (severely limited mobility).

This classification system helps healthcare professionals assess a child’s motor function and plan appropriate interventions and support services.

How Can I Manage Cerebral Palsy?

Management strategies vary depending on individual needs but may include medication, therapies (such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy), assistive devices, and, in some cases, surgical interventions to improve mobility or address complications.

Knowing about these management strategies, families can gain a deeper understanding of the various approaches available to support their child with cerebral palsy and make informed decisions about their care.


Approved drugs are commonly prescribed for managing symptoms of cerebral palsy. These include muscle relaxants to reduce spasticity, anticonvulsants for managing seizures, or medications to address associated conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or bladder control issues.

Your doctors should always discuss potential side effects, dosage adjustments, and the importance of regular monitoring by healthcare professionals with you when using medications to manage cerebral palsy.


Different types of therapies are commonly used in managing cerebral palsy, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and aquatic therapy.

Your clinicians should always explain clearly to you the goals and benefits of each therapy, such as improving mobility, enhancing motor skills, promoting independence in daily activities, and addressing communication challenges.

They should also highlight the importance of early intervention services and the role of therapists in developing personalized treatment plans tailored to the unique needs of each child with cerebral palsy.

Assistive Devices

Your treating doctors should explore the wide range of assistive devices available to support individuals with cerebral palsy in their daily lives, such as mobility aids (wheelchairs, walkers, orthotics), communication devices (augmentative and alternative communication devices), adaptive equipment for daily activities, and assistive technology for education and employment.

They should also discuss the process of assessing and obtaining assistive devices, including evaluations by healthcare professionals, funding options, and ongoing support and maintenance with you.

Surgical Interventions

Your clinicians should provide an overview of the surgical options available for children with cerebral palsy, such as selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) to reduce spasticity, orthopaedic surgeries (such as tendon lengthening or muscle transfers) to improve joint alignment and function, or neurosurgical procedures to address associated conditions like hydrocephalus or epilepsy.

They should discuss the potential benefits, risks, and recovery process associated with surgical interventions, as well as the importance of comprehensive preoperative assessments and postoperative rehabilitation.

Where Can I Get Further Help & Support?

Seeking support from healthcare professionals, support groups, and advocacy organizations can provide valuable resources, information, and emotional support for families navigating the challenges of cerebral palsy.

By expanding on these avenues for further help and support, families can access a broader range of resources, information, and emotional support to navigate the challenges of cerebral palsy and enhance their overall well-being.

Healthcare Professionals

Types of healthcare professionals who play key roles in managing cerebral palsy, include paediatricians, neurologists, developmental paediatricians, physiatrists, orthopaedic surgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and psychologists.

It is important to establish a comprehensive care team that includes specialists from various disciplines in order to fully assess, diagnose, treat and coordinate care for individuals with cerebral palsy.

Support Groups and Peer Networks

It can be very beneficial to explore joining local or online support groups specifically tailored to families of individuals with cerebral palsy. This provides opportunities for peer support, shared experiences, practical advice, and emotional encouragement.

Such support groups play a crucial role in facilitating connections with other families facing similar challenges, fostering a sense of belonging, reducing isolation, and empowering individuals to advocate for themselves and their loved ones.

Advocacy Organizations

Reputable national and international advocacy organizations are dedicated to cerebral palsy, such as The National Bobath Cerebral Palsy CentreAction Cerebral PalsyCPotential, or SCOPE. They can provide information on their resources, educational materials, online communities, and advocacy initiatives.

The advocacy efforts of these organizations raise awareness, promote research, advance public policies, and advocate for the rights and inclusion of individuals with cerebral palsy in society.

Educational and Financial Resources

Exploring the educational resources and toolkits available through advocacy organizations, healthcare institutions, or government agencies, offers guidance on navigating healthcare systems, accessing educational services, securing financial assistance, and planning for the future.

Financial support programs could be available. These include disability State benefits, special education services, and assistive technology funding, and provide guidance on eligibility criteria, application processes, and advocacy strategies for maximizing support.

Counselling and Mental Health Services

It is crucial to address the emotional and psychological well-being of individuals with cerebral palsy and their families, and to provide information on accessing counselling, therapy, or mental health support services tailored to their unique needs.

These can reduce the potential impact of cerebral palsy on family dynamics, stress management, coping strategies, and resilience-building, and provide resources for addressing caregiver burnout, grief, anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.

How can Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors help me?

Not all cases of CP are due to failings in care. Cases where substandard care is suspected can be complex to investigate, and specialist solicitors are essential to guide you through the process. Our medical negligence expert team are highly experienced in handling complex and high-value Cerebral Palsy cases, and we understand the profound challenges that families face when seeking support for their child. We promise to provide an empathetic, professional, and excellent client service to help you with your case.

With a proven track record of success, we have assisted numerous families in navigating the intricate legal landscape surrounding Cerebral Palsy claims. Our compassionate approach ensures that we not only address the legal complexities but also provide genuine support to our clients as they navigate the emotional journey of living with Cerebral Palsy.

Our highly skilled team of medical negligence solicitors is dedicated to providing comprehensive guidance tailored to your unique circumstances. We understand that every case is different, and we take the time to listen to your concerns, answer your difficult questions, and devise a personalized strategy to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your family.

At every step of the way, we prioritize your needs and well-being, offering transparent communication, compassionate support, and unwavering advocacy. From assessing the merits of your claim to securing funding and navigating the legal process, we are committed to ensuring that you receive the highest level of representation and support.

What Items of Compensation are Recovered in a Cerebral Palsy Medical Negligence Claim?

In a cerebral palsy medical negligence claim, compensation may cover expenses related to medical care, therapy, assistive devices, home modifications, loss of income, pain and suffering, and future care needs.


Navigating the journey of cerebral palsy can be challenging, but remember, you’re not alone. From understanding the condition to managing its challenges and seeking legal recourse, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Contact us today to learn how our experienced team of specialist Cerebral Palsy solicitors can help you seek justice and secure the compensation your family deserves. You may telephone us now at 0808 271 9413 or request a call back to speak with one of our experienced solicitors. If you would prefer not to speak with anyone just yet, please fill in the enquiry form to request a callback. 

Let us help you navigate the challenges of living with Cerebral Palsy and achieve the justice and compensation you deserve.

Further Reading