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Jeff Brody
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Strabismus and Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that usually affect motor function in people, often in the form of gait problems.  Cerebral palsy does have a variety of symptoms, however.  Strabismus is fairly common in people who have cerebral palsy.  Strabismus is a vision problem affecting the eye muscles.

Strabismus in people with cerebral palsy can be usually physically detected due to the misplacement of the eyes.  Usually the eyes are not aligned correctly because there are differences in the strengths of both the left and the right eye muscles.  If the strabismus occurs at a young age, the child’s body usually compensates by having one eye work better than the other.  Sometimes this can lead to the weaker eye having worse eyesight, which can be problematic for children with movement disorders like cerebral palsy.

Since the muscles of the two eyes do not work in conjunction with one another, strabismus causes the brain to not be able to put together the visual images from both eyes.  Symptoms that a person with cerebral palsy has strabismus include:  eyes that do not look in the same direction, eyes that do not move at the same time, severe squinting of one eye, and an awkward gait that results in accidents or collisions with things around them.

Strabismus in cerebral palsy can either be concomitant or incomitant.  Concomitant strabismus is when both eyes retain their relationship regardless of which direction they look in.  This generally means that both eyes have the same amount of muscle function but do not look in the same direction.

Incomitant strabismus occurs when the eyes’ relationship changes with the gaze.  This means that the eyes have varying muscle strengths.  Types of incomitant strabismus in cerebral palsy are:  esotropia (one eye turning inward), exotropia (one eye turning outward), hypertropia (one eye turning upward), and hypotropia (one eye turning downward).

There are several types of treatments and surgeries that can be performed for strabismus.  Treatments can include application of things like patches or certain glasses can help.  Other treatments can use Botox A injections, prescription drugs, or even eye exercises.

Most children with cerebral palsy and strabismus will need to have some form of strabismus surgery.  These surgeries can help in realigning the eyes of the child.  The surgery usually consists of either weakening or strengthening the eye muscles, which ever is seen to be the best course of treatment.  If the strabismus surgery is undertaken to weaken the eye muscle then procedures called recessions take place.  If the strabismus surgery is to strengthen the muscles then resections occur.

If the cerebral palsy was caused by a medical mistake or preventable problem, then potentially all of the costs of strabismus surgery for cerebral palsy can be covered.  Contact an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer through this Web site for a free consultation to see if you qualify.

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