Looking Ahead to the Teen Years for Children With Cerebral Palsy

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teen girl pushing teen boy with cerebral palsy in wheelchairMany parents learn of their children’s cerebral palsy when they are infants or toddlers, and many articles are written about what to do after your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This is a critical time for families, and there is a lot to learn quickly, but it is not the only critical time in your child’s life.

What to Expect During the Teen Years

During the teen years, it is normal for children to assert independence from their parents, to want to make their own decisions, and to have conflicting feelings about their new stage of life. Teenagers with cerebral palsy go through these normal developmental changes, but often with added difficulties.

As typical teens begin to separate from their parents, spending time with their friends becomes increasingly important to them. Teens with cerebral palsy may have wonderful friends, but mobility issues may make it difficult or impossible for them to socialize with their friends without an adult present.

While other teens are making plans for what to do after high school ends, teens with cerebral palsy may be frustrated and upset. After years of special education and inclusion with their peers, they may not have the same choices as their friends do when it comes to life after high school.

During these social and emotional upheavals, some teens experience additional physical problems during puberty and beyond. While cerebral palsy won’t start to affect additional parts of the body as a person ages, it can create further health problems in the parts of the body that are impacted by the condition. For example, scoliosis or dislocated hips can develop in teens with cerebral palsy.

Treatment for Teens With Cerebral Play

As was the case when your child was young and as will be the case when he is an adult, your teenager’s cerebral palsy treatment depends on his unique needs at the time. During the teen years, cerebral palsy treatment may include medications, surgeries, and rehabilitation therapies.

Many people continue to see pediatric doctors and therapists through their teen years, but as your child becomes an older teen, it may be time to transition to providers who treat adults. Some common treatment providers for teens with cerebral palsy include:

  • Orthopedists
  • Developmental pediatricians
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech and language pathologists
  • Psychotherapists

Many teens, including teens with cerebral palsy, resist going to rehabilitation therapy and medical appointments. They want to fit in with their peers and spend their time doing the things that they enjoy rather than getting treatment. This can be challenging for parents, but experienced doctors and therapists can help teens and their parents through these challenges.

Think About the Teen Years When Your Child Is Young

It’s hard for any parent to imagine their young child as a teenager. However, what you do as a parent when your child is young sets the stage for what happens when your child is a teenager and then an adult. While this is true for all parents, it is even more important for parents of kids with cerebral palsy.

If your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical negligence, you might file a lawsuit seeking financial compensation. That lawsuit will likely be filed when your child is a toddler and resolved when your child is young.

However, the financial compensation your child recovers in a cerebral palsy case must include all of your child’s reasonably foreseeable future damages. Once the case is settled or a court verdict is issued, your child will not have an additional opportunity to seek damages. Therefore, the pain and suffering your child will experience and the medical treatment he will need as a teenager, and all of his anticipated adult needs, should be included in your child’s settlement or court verdict.

Our experienced cerebral palsy attorneys will help you protect your future teenager while we help you protect your young child. Call us or start a live chat with us at any time to schedule a free consultation about your child’s rights and potential legal recovery.

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