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Cerebral Palsy Pain Management Often Overlooked: Study

New research suggests that many children with cerebral palsy may not be receiving adequate treatment to manage the pain associated with their disability. 

In a study published earlier this month in the Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, French researchers warn that those with cerebral palsy may be suffering from higher levels of pain than health care providers anticipate, resulting in a lack of sufficient pain management treatment.

Researchers looked at data from 240 children suffering from severe cerebral palsy, who were between the ages of 3 and 10, and followed them over 10 years.

According to the findings, 65 of the children, or 27.1%, experienced pain from cerebral palsy. All of those who suffered pain reported orthopedic pain, and 45% also suffered pain from some other source.

The most common locations of the reported cerebral palsy pains were the hips and the feet. Nearly 60% of those who reported experiencing pain identified joint mobilization as the source, and a little over 10% identified sitting as a source of pain. Those who suffered from scoliosis and spasticity treatment reported the highest levels of pain.

Researchers warn that cerebral palsy pain management appears to be overlooked by many caregivers and health care professionals.

“Children with cerebral palsy frequently experience pain and also early pain, mostly articular and orthopedic. The assessment of pain should be systematic because of its high prevalence,” the researchers concluded. “Interventions to prevent scoliosis, hip luxation, and foot deformities and to reduce spasticity, such as the use of analgesics before joint mobilization exercises, may reduce the prevalence of this pain.”

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that may be attributed to brain damage suffered before, during or shortly after birth. If the child’s brain is deprived of oxygen around the time of birth, it can result in irreversible damage that leaves the child with developmental problems, loss of motor functions and other life-long injuries and disabilities.

While there is no cure for the disorder, early diagnosis may increase the treatment options and the likelihood that the severity of cerebral palsy may be reduced, resulting in permanent improvements in quality of life for the child.

In many cases, cerebral palsy is caused by a birth injury or medical mistake that may have been prevented by the exercise of the proper standards of medical care. In those cases, families may be able to pursue financial compensation for the child through a cerebral palsy malpractice lawsuit.

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