Cerebral palsy is a developmental disorder that is lifelong and that requires long-term medical care and treatment. It is a disorder that affects the individual as well as the family and other loved ones. People with cerebral palsy often cannot provide for themselves physically or financially so the burden of caretaking and covering the costs of the disorder become the family’s responsibilities.
The cost of caring for a person with cerebral palsy (CP) is determined based on multiple direct and indirect expenses. These costs include medical expenses related to treatment, as well as other expenses like assistive devices, modifications to the home to accommodate the individual with CP, and many more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the cost of caring for a person with CP over a lifetime exceeds $1.3 million, and that’s not including normal living costs. This overwhelming amount can leave parents and caregivers feeling discouraged and sometimes hopeless about being able to provide adequate care for their loved one even when they have the assistance of medical insurance.
Expenses Related to the Care of Someone with Cerebral Palsy
The expenses that are incurred by the family of someone with CP fall into two categories: direct and indirect, and they cover everything from medical expenses to modifications for accommodation.
The direct expenses for caring for a person with cerebral palsy include the medical costs associates with treating the condition. The average medical expenses for children who have CP are estimated to be almost 10 times more than the average cost of caring for children who don’t have it. That is nearly $20,000 more per year, on average, in medical costs.
Some of the direct medical expenses for caring for a person with CP include the following:
- Appointments with doctors and specialists
- Physical, speech, or occupational therapy sessions
- Hospital stays
- Diagnostic imaging testing
- Co-occurring disorder treatment
The amount of medical expenses incurred depends on the seriousness of the person’s cerebral palsy. A person who has a milder form of CP will likely cost less to treat than it does to treat someone with a more debilitating type of the disorder. People who have more severe movement limitations will need more treatment and thus, have more medical expenses associated with their care.
About half of those who are diagnosed with CP also have some type of intellectual disability caused by the condition, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism. The cost for treating an individual with CP and a co-occurring intellectual disability can be more than $50,000 per year. Those individuals typically need the care of neurologists and other specialists, in addition to different types of therapy to help in managing their symptoms. This can greatly increase the amount of direct medical expenses.
Medical expenses that are directly related to a person having cerebral palsy only account for part of their care. There are various types of indirect expenses that parents or other caregivers can also expect to pay as part of their loved one’s care. Indirect expenses are often not covered by medical insurance. For example, if a person with CP is required to use a wheelchair and the home has to be modified to accommodate this, insurance may assist with the wheelchair, but not the home modifications.
Some of the other indirect expenses of caring for an individual with CP are:
- Modification to vehicles
- Adaptive shoes or clothing
- Assistive devices (wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, etc.)
- Daily personal care aides
- Special education programs or helpers
An additional indirect cost of CP is the person’s loss of earning potential, which has a significant effect on the lifetime expense of living with the disorder. Although some people who have cerebral palsy are able to work, many face considerable limitations, physically or intellectually, and are not able to reach their full earning potential as a result.
Help to Alleviate the Cost of Living with Cerebral Palsy
Fortunately, there are some avenues of financial assistance that are available to people who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Government agencies, charities, and non-profit organizations are a few of the organizations that offer help to families of people with cerebral palsy.
Another avenue pertains to those who suspect that their loved one’s cerebral palsy (and co-occurring conditions) was a result of a medical mistake or negligence. If that is the case for you, it’s important to contact an attorney who is experienced in dealing with medical malpractice cases involving cerebral palsy.
At Ross Feller Casey, we have an unrivaled record of winning medical malpractice lawsuits involving cerebral palsy. We have top attorneys and medical doctors on staff to help determine if you have a potential case. We handle all our cases, including cerebral palsy lawsuits, on a contingency basis and your case evaluation is free. Contact us today.