Costs of Raising Children with Cerebral Palsy

Children with Cerebral Palsy face a lifetime with a chronic health condition.  Cerebral Palsy is a neurological condition arising from birth trauma, which can cause cognitive problems, seizures, problems with movement and balance, and vision and hearing problems.

Depending on the severity of their condition, children with Cerebral Palsy may need medical treatment and supportive care throughout their lives. This can be an enormously expensive proposition for parents.  Raising children is expensive enough; raising a child with cerebral palsy can be financially devastating.

In Ontario, our basic health care services are paid through OHIP, but there are many things that are not covered through that plan that may be necessary for the proper support and care of children with Cerebral Palsy.

Children with Cerebral Palsy often require ongoing prescription drugs, such as medications that prevent seizures.  Prescription drugs are not covered by OHIP and Ontario’s public drug programs apply only to certain people and certain prescription drugs.  Children with Cerebral Palsy may or may not qualify for coverage.

Ongoing physiotherapy may be necessary for certain children with Cerebral Palsy in order to maximize the function of one or more limbs and to improve posture.  Some people have extended health care insurance coverage that covers part of the cost of physiotherapy, but these plans usually have a maximum coverage per year that may not be adequate for the treatment of children with Cerebral Palsy.

Many children with Cerebral Palsy require devices to assist with walking (such as braces or walkers) or wheelchairs.  These devices can be very expensive, particularly because growing children will likely need to have these devices replaced every year.   Even if parents have insurance coverage that covers wheelchairs or other devices, there is often a restriction on how often they can be replaced.  The Ontario Foundation for Cerebral Palsy will contribute up to $2,500 per year towards the purchase of certain qualifying devices for qualifying members of the foundation with Cerebral Palsy.

Depending on their particular needs, children with Cerebral Palsy may require specialized childcare services, tutoring or educational assistants.  Many people with Cerebral Palsy may require assisted living services throughout their adult lives.

While there are potentially tax breaks and charitable foundations that will help, the financial consequences of raising children with Cerebral Palsy can be overwhelming to parents.  It is imperative that parents of children with Cerebral Palsy consult with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.  Cerebral Palsy is often caused by preventable birth trauma.  If you and your child have a legal claim for medical malpractice, the resulting award for damages might go a long way towards addressing your child’s needs.

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