What Parents of Children With Cerebral Palsy Need to Know About Neuromuscular Scoliosis

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xray of spine with scoliosisAnyone can develop scoliosis and the serious side effects that come with it. Doctors are not sure why some people develop scoliosis and others don’t. However, doctors do know that people with cerebral palsy may develop a specific kind of scoliosis known as neuromuscular scoliosis or myopathic scoliosis.

Neuromuscular Scoliosis

Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that can occur if a baby is deprived of oxygen during birth. People with cerebral palsy have trouble controlling their movements and often suffer other disabilities. The effect of cerebral palsy on a person’s spinal muscles can make neuromuscular scoliosis more likely.

Neuromuscular scoliosis differs from a typical scoliosis diagnosis in several important ways, namely:

  • It typically involves more of the spine than other forms of scoliosis. Many people with scoliosis have a curve in a small section of their spine. However, people with neuromuscular scoliosis tend to have long curves that can cover the entire spine.
  • It usually progresses much more quickly than other forms of scoliosis. In other words, the curve of the spine gets worse much faster than it does for someone without cerebral palsy.
  • It may occur at an earlier age than other types of scoliosis. Scoliosis is most often diagnosed during or soon after a child’s growth spurt that occurs right before puberty. The same is not always true for people with neuromuscular scoliosis, which can occur in much younger children.
  • It may require different treatment than other forms of scoliosis. Often, people with scoliosis are treated with back braces or careful monitoring. Monitoring may be insufficient for neuromuscular scoliosis because of the condition’s rapid progression, and bracing is often less effective in people with cerebral palsy.

Symptoms of neuromuscular scoliosis may include:

  • One hip that is noticeably higher than the other hip
  • Uneven waistline
  • Uneven shoulders
  • Titled pelvis
  • Posture changes
  • Difficulty sitting up without support

If a doctor suspects scoliosis during a physical examination, x-rays will be done to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment for Neuromuscular Scoliosis

Bracing, which is a standard treatment for other forms of scoliosis, will not prevent neuromuscular scoliosis from getting worse. However, there are treatments available for people who have neuromuscular scoliosis, including:

  • Wheelchair modifications. Custom-made seating systems can provide balance and support for children with scoliosis in wheelchairs.
  • Surgery. Different types of surgery may be necessary for children with neuromuscular scoliosis. For example, rods and bone grafts can realign the bones to correct the spinal curvature. After surgery, many children require hospitalization in the pediatric intensive care unit. Surgical risks include pneumonia, infections, and respiratory difficulties. Additional operations may be necessary.
  • Physical therapy. A child with cerebral palsy may already receive physical therapy, but physical therapy strategies targeted explicitly to neuromuscular scoliosis may be important.

Often, children require a combination of treatments. Your child’s specific treatment plan should be discussed with his team of doctors.

Paying for Cerebral Palsy Treatments

Neuromuscular scoliosis is just one of the many serious health conditions that people with cerebral palsy may face during their lifetimes.  Like other forms of medical treatment, neuromuscular scoliosis treatment may be expensive.

If your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical negligence during labor or delivery, your child has the right to make a fair financial recovery for all of the costs associated with cerebral palsy. This includes, but it is not limited to, the past and future medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, physical pain, and emotional suffering that result from neuromuscular scoliosis.

The doctor, nurse, or hospital that caused your child’s cerebral palsy will not offer you a fair recovery unless you demand it. You have only one chance to get this right, but you do not have to fight this fight alone. Instead, we encourage you to contact our dedicated and experienced cerebral palsy lawyers today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and to learn more about protecting your child’s full recovery, including all of the financial and emotional costs that come with neuromuscular scoliosis.

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