Cerebral Palsy - Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Our cerebral palsy medical malpractice lawyers can help you get compensation if your childs injuries were caused as a result of negligence. Cerebral Palsy which is also called static encephalopathy or Little's Disease refers to a group of disorders that affect control of movement and posture the causes of which result from damage to the brain. Symptoms range from mild to severe and the condition does not get worse as the child gets older although the symptoms may change over time. The condition was first described in the 19th century by William Little who wrote about a disorder that caused stiff muscles in legs and arms which subsequently became known as spastic diplegia. Early signs usually appear before the child is 3 years old and often become obvious when the child is slow to reach certain developmental milestones. This condition may be as a result of a 'birth defect' or as a result of medical negligence occurring during or shortly after birth. Diagnosis is made by testing motor skills, intelligence and reflexes after consideration of the medical records. Treatment usually starts in the early years of a child's life as soon as a cerebral palsy diagnosis is confirmed. About 2 to 3 children in 1,000 over the age of three suffer from CP. There are a number of cerebral palsy associations throughout Canada that can give help, advice and support to the carers of those suffering from this condition. Less than 10% of these cases are caused by medical malpractice however our cerebral palsy lawyers, in combination with a team of medical experts are able to assess your potential claim and advise you of the likelihood of success and the estimated damages payable.
Cerebral Palsy Causes
Numerous events that occur during pregnancy, labor or shortly after birth can disrupt the normal development of the brain.
Some of the known causes are:
- Infections during pregnancy including rubella, cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis.
- Insufficient oxygen supply to the baby before or during delivery.
- Premature babies who weigh less than 3.3lbs are 30 times more likely to suffer irreversible brain damage than full-term babies.
- Birth defects including brain malformations and genetic or chromosomal abnormalities.
- Acquired CP which occurs in about 10% of children during the first two years of life usually as a result of brain infections and head injuries.
- maternal exposure to some chemicals including alcohol, cigarettes and cocaine
- maternal exposure to certain infections including rubella, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus
- severe physcal trauma to the mother during pregnancy
- prematurity or low birth weight
- excessive first or second stage of labor which may cause oxygen deprivation
- seizures immediately following delivery that are undiagnosed or untreated
- inappropriate vacuum extraction or use of delivery forceps
- untreated fetal heart rate anomalies
- undiagnosed prolapsed umbilical cord causing oxygen deprivation
- failure to perform a cesarean section in the presence of fetal distress
- failure to recognize jaundice or meningitis
- failure to plan a cesarean section for a large birth weight child
- failure to respond to and treat maternal high blood pressure or toxemia
- Incompatibility between the blood of the mother and child can also cause irreversible brain damage. Rh disease can usually be detected and prevented by treatment around the 28th week of pregnancy and after the birth of an Rh-positive baby.
This condition is classified into four main categories each displaying different symptoms as follows :-
- Spastic Quadriplegia - all 4 of the limbs are involved
- Spastic Diplegia - either both arms or both legs are involved
- Spastic Hemiplegia - one side of the body is affected, usually the arm more than the leg
- Spastic Triplegia - 3 limbs are involved, usually one leg and both arms
- Spastic Monoplegia - 1 limb is affected, usually an arm
Spastic CP affects over half of those with the condition and is defined by muscle tone being too high or tight which causes stiff and jerky movements resulting in difficulty in moving position or holding or releasing objects. Some children also suffer from hemiparetic tremors, in which uncontrollable shaking affects the limbs on one side of the body and impairs normal movement. Spastic CP is classified according to the number of limbs involved as follows:
Ataxic CP affects less than 10% of CP sufferers is characterized by low muscle tone and poor coordination causing limbs to appear floppy and loose. Affected people often walk unsteadily and have difficulty carrying out precise actions requiring acute motor skills. There is often difficulty reaching for objects because of affected depth perception and intention tremors may occur that worsen as the individual gets nearer to the desired object.
Athetoid CP affects less than 20% of people who suffer from this condition and is defined by muscles which change from floppy to tense as a result of mixed muscle tone. The muscles in the face or tongue are sometimes affected resulting in involuntary grimacing and tongue thrusting which is known as dysarthria. This condition causes difficulty with control and coordination of movement which often increases during stress and disappears during sleep. There may be involuntary, purposeless movements which interfere with speaking, feeding, reaching, grasping, and other skills requiring coordinated movements. Athetoid cerebral palsy may occur as a result of injury to the brain due to a neonatal condition known as kernicterus.
Mixed CP occurs when there is a combination of some or all of the above cerebral palsy symptoms in the same person and occurs in about 10 percent of children who suffer from CP. The most common combination is athetoid/spastic-diplegic or athetoid/spastic-hemiplegic. The least common is athetoid/ataxic. Any combination of types can occur and it is possible to have a mixture of spastic, athetoid and ataxic.
There is no cerebral palsy treatment that can undo the damage caused by irreversible brain damage however the quality of life can be improved for sufferers of this condition. This condition is a group of disorders resulting from damage to the brain that affects control of movement and posture. Early signs usually appear before a child is 3 years old and doctors diagnose cerebral palsy by testing motor skills, intelligence and reflexes after consideration of the medical records in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed topography (CT scan), or ultrasound. The major types of cerebral palsy are.
- Spastic CP which is caused by muscles that are stiff making movement difficult.
- Athetoid CP which affects the whole body is characterized by fluctuations in muscle tone causing uncontrolled movements.
- Ataxic CP which usually affects balance and precise coordination.
Therapy is usually instigated following consideration by a team of health care professionals who identify the childs needs and create an individual treatment plan to help the child reach his or her maximum potential. Specialist members of this team may include pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons, physical and occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, social workers and psychologists. There is no treatment that can undo the damage caused to the brain however there are different therapeutic approaches to help better manage and control the potential physical and mental disability which may include physical therapy, drug therapy or surgery depending on an individual's needs.
Physical therapy is usually started in the early years of a childs life and is used to prevent contracture complications by stretching the affected muscles, and is also used in certain situations to improve motor development. Treatment may include behaviour therapy involving psychological techniques to complement physical, speech or occupational therapy to help to improve quality of life. Cerebral palsy treatment often includes the use of a wide range of medications including tranquilizers to relax tightened muscles and antispasmodics to reduce spasms. Seizures can be treated with an anticonvulsant medication and some patients are prescribed medication to reduce the abnormal movements that they experience. Contractures can to be so severe as to require surgery in appropriate cases to lengthen the shortened muscle and surgery may also be used to reduce the amount of nervous stimulation that can reach the muscles.
Cerebral Palsy Lawyers
Our cerebral palsy medical malpractice lawyers can help you to exercise your legal rights to obtain the compensation which your child needs and deserves. Our cerebral palsy lawyers will deal with your claim using a contingency fee arrangement which means if your child doesn't succeed in receiving compensation then your lawyers won't get paid. This condition often has devastating consequences not only for the child victim but also for the family who take on the considerable burden of lifetime care. Whilst money cannot heal the damage that has been done it can help in making life easier for all concerned. For advice at no cost and without further obligation just complete the contact form or email our offices and a qualified cerebral palsy lawyer will telephone you immediately to discuss your compensation claim without further obligation.
Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that begins in the first few months of life. It involves problems in the function of the brain including the ability to hear, see, learn, move and think. Movement problems are the mainstay of cerebral palsy and are almost always involved in the disease. There are several different kinds of cerebral palsy, including ataxic cerebral palsy, spastic cerebral palsy, hypotonic cerebral palsy, mixed cerebral palsy and dyskinetic cerebral palsy. The symptoms vary according to the type of cerebral palsy that is present in the affected individual.
There can be mild or severe symptoms of cerebral palsy. It can involve only one limb or body function or it can include both sides of the body and all four limbs. Just the legs can be involved or just the arms can be involved.
The symptoms occur between the ages of three months to two years of age. It can show up as a delay in motor function, spasticity of the extremities or problems with other areas of development. The most common type of cerebral palsy is spastic cerebral palsy. The major symptoms seen in spastic cerebral palsy include tight muscles that do not move much with effort or with pushing on them, walking on their toes, having an abnormal gait that includes having the arms tucked in near the sides of the body or the knees and having the knees touching or crossed, called a scissors gait, stiff and contracted joints that do not straighten out well, muscle paralysis or weakness or symptoms that affect one side of the body or perhaps just the arms or just the legs.
Other types of cerebral palsy have different symptoms. They can include abnormal movements, tremors, loose or floppy muscles, unsteady gait and loss of coordination. Symptoms unrelated to movement include learning disabilities, low intelligence, problems with speech, hearing problems, visual disturbances, joint or muscle pain, and seizures. The individual can be mildly disabled or severely disabled from the disease.
Digestive problems can occur due to difficulty swallowing, sucking or feeding in small infants. There can be difficulties with vomiting, constipation, drooling, delayed growth, irregular breathing, and incontinence of bowel or bladder. These can be seen primarily in infants and in children who have the disease.
Cerebral palsy is caused by a low level of oxygen in the brain that occurs sometime in utero or at birth. It occurs at a slightly higher risk in premature infants, who often suffer from hypoxia. You can also get cerebral palsy when bleeding occurs within the brain, from a head injury, and from infections occurring in the mother during pregnancy. Infantile infections such as meningitis or encephalitis can contribute to cerebral palsy and there can be cerebral palsy from severe jaundice in infancy. Damage to the brain any time before the age of two years can contribute to getting cerebral palsy.
The treatment of cerebral palsy includes many different healthcare providers including a primary care doctor, a neurologist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a physical therapist and other specialty doctors. These healthcare specialists help to make sure that the symptoms are as little as possible and that things like contractures are as minimal as they can be. Children can be taught how to function with splints and braces and how to use walkers or wheelchairs. Medications can be given that reduce the spasticity and calm the muscles. There is usually an intensive educational plan that strives to get the student into regular classrooms as soon as possible, despite their illness. Nutritional deficits are managed, including swallowing difficulties. This might include the use of a tube that directly feeds the child from an opening in the skin, called a stoma.
The patient may need to take anticonvulsant therapy for seizures, the use of Botulinum toxin to release muscles from their spasticity. Tremors are reduced as well with botulinum toxin. Surgery can control reflux disease, can put in feeding tubes and can release contractures of the various joints involved in spasticity and contractures.LEGAL HELPLINE: ☎ 855 804 7125
The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here