Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood due to damage to the motor control centres of their brains. It is typically the result of an injury that occurs in pregnancy, childbirth or even infancy up till the age of three. Signs and symptoms vary and include poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles, and tremors. Those symptoms are often difficult to detect and become more evident over time.
For the parent of a child with CP – or who suspects they may have CP – it can be an incredibly confusing, scary and overwhelming time. To help with questions they may have and to find support, there are a number of resources and tools that a family with a child with CP in Ontario can turn to.
Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
Your first step is to look to the Government of Ontario. Its Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), for example, offers two types of support. There’s monthly financial assistance to help with the costs of basic needs, like food, clothing and shelter. There’s even drug coverage and vision care benefits for clients and their eligible family members. ODSP also provides employment help – tools and support to help clients with disabilities advance their careers.
In addition, the Ontario Government, through the Ministry of Children, Community and Social services, runs the Passport Program. Aside from helping adults 18 years and older with a developmental disability more effectively engage in their communities, the program also helps caregivers of those adult children take a much-needed respite from their caregiving responsibilities. Developmental Services Ontario oversees the application process for all developmental services and supports for adults with a developmental disability in Ontario.
If a child is severely disabled and requires medical services, you may want to look to the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) in your area. Or connect with case management services where a government or public case manager can help both your family and child.
To learn more about all the programs offered by the Ontario Government, check out the website of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
Another helpful resource that can offer tools and resources and answers questions a parent with CP may have, is the Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy. The nonprofit charitable organization offers a wide range of services – education, recreation, housing, life planning - resources and programs for people with CP and their families as well as professional organizations.
And keep your eyes out for a new initiative. The Childhood Cerebral Palsy Integrated Neuroscience Discovery Network (CP-NET), funded by the Ontario Brain Institute, is committed to improving our understanding of cerebral palsy (CP) and accelerating the development of new treatments. The hope is that CP-NET will solve some of the “unknowns” around CP, such as: What causes CP? Can we prevent it? How can we improve rehabilitation treatments for children with CP? This initiative will be gathering information about children with CP and their families from across Ontario.
Is your child displaying symptoms that you seem consistent with CP? If so, first see your doctor for a medial diagnosis. Do you have questions or concerns about your child’s diagnosis? Check out the resources above and, if you think there may have been negligence during pregnancy, birth or postpartum, contact a medical malpractice or personal injury lawyer to help you understand your rights and the choices you have.
Keep in mind, caring for a child with cerebral palsy can prove very costly. Families can be compensated for the expenses they now have to incur and will incur into the future. Expenses such as modifications for one’s home to make it it wheelchair-accessible, medical and rehabilitation services, mobility equipment and respite care.
If you have any questions, our experienced medical malpractice team at HSH will be glad to help and find you the compensation you deserve.