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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Birth Paralysis – Prognosis

Paralysis at birth can be caused by an injury or infection. It may also be the result of various medical conditions. The doctor must be able to diagnose the problem behind the paralysis before they can begin treatment and determine a prognosis for the infant.

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Is It Permanent?

One of the first things a parent wants to know when they hear the word “paralysis” is if it’s permanent. This is often the biggest fear for them – that their child will never be able to walk or function normally.

In many cases, birth paralysis is not permanent. It is an indication of a serious underlying condition that is treatable. For example, Klumpke’s palsy is a condition that is found primarily in infants. It causes paralysis in a forearm or hand. Many times, the condition heals itself with no treatment required.

Elk & Elk

Erb’s palsy is similar in the fact that it affects the arm and often causes temporary paralysis. With these conditions, damage to the nerves results in paralysis, but when the nerves are healed, the limb returns to normal.

In other cases, the baby may require treatment such as physical therapy to help with recovery. In more extreme cases, surgery may be necessary. In all of these situations, the prognosis for all infants is 90 to 100 percent recovery. However, some conditions may be severe enough that the paralysis is permanent if the nerve damage cannot be repaired.

When the Condition is Permanent

With certain conditions, paralysis may be permanent. This is most often the case with complications during delivery. For instance, the brain may be deprived of oxygen, which can lead to paralysis. A diagnosis of cerebral palsy is lifelong.

Most of these conditions are not deteriorating, which means they will not get worse over time. Whatever paralysis the infant has is what they will continue to experience. The key will be to help them learn how to function within their limitations. They will likely need therapy for years to come to help them adjust to limited mobility while still learning how to manage certain tasks.

Much of the time, the doctor will not be able to say if the paralysis is permanent at the time of diagnosis. It will depend on how the baby responds to treatment and what improvement is seen. It may take a year or even longer before a prognosis can be reached for the condition.