Cervical dystonia, which also goes by the name spasmodic torticollis, generates painful and frequent involuntary contractions in the neck and head muscles.
Because cervical dystonia usually starts around middle age, if the condition commences in infancy (infant cervical dystonia), “secondary causes,” such as a birth injury, might be at play, cautions the National Organization for Rare Disorders.
Infant Cervical Dystonia Lawsuits & Injury Cases
When cervical dystonia results from a birth injury, it could mean that a health care provider(s) did not meet the accepted standard of care at some point during the pregnancy, during the delivery, or following the delivery. When the medical staff’s negligence causes a birth injury like infant cervical dystonia, the infant’s family can pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.
For a birth injury to be attributed to medical malpractice and for the defendant to be held liable, the plaintiff must be able to show the healthcare provider made preventable medical mistakes that caused the infant cervical dystonia.
Furthermore, the plaintiff must be able to show that the infant’s condition did not arise from an “unfortunate outcome,” but rather because the healthcare professional breached their standard of care. By “standard of care,” the law refers to an accepted level of skill, care, and discretion expected from any provider in a particular field of medicine.
To prove causation and negligence, the plaintiff’s lawyer will need to do substantial research and preparation. They must:
- Gather facts
- Obtain all medical records, including those from pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery
- Review all retrieved medical records with medical experts to establish a breach of the standard of care
- Gather witness and expert witness testimonies
- Identify at-fault parties
Infant cervical dystonia can be extremely painful, as well as debilitating. Pain and suffering is a logical and understandable damage for which the plaintiff can demand compensation from the defendant.
Furthermore, the medical costs for treatment can be costly, and these expenses should enter into the plaintiff’s recoverable damages.
A birth injury lawsuit can help you and your family recover damages for:
- Medical expenses (past, present, and future)
- Physical therapy
- Assistive mobility device
- Other specialized equipment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost income resulting from caring for your infant and eventually, disabled child
- Special education costs when your child begins school
- Loss of consortium
An attorney will also ensure that the plaintiff meets the stringent deadlines in place for filing a medical malpractice claim in their state.
Infant Cervical Dystonia Types
Cervical dystonia is known by several names:
- Spasmodic wryneck
- Isolated cervical dystonia
- Spasmodic torticollis
There are several types of cervical dystonia:
- Focal dystonia (affects a specific part of the body)
- General dystonia (affects most/all of the body)
- Hemidystonia (affects both arm and leg on either side of the body)
- Multifocal dystonia (affects at least two unrelated body parts)
- Segmental dystonia (affects at least two adjacent body parts)
These types of cervical dystonia include sub-types.
The rare condition is a neurological disorder. When it develops in infants, the cause is generally attributed to either how the baby was positioned in the womb or some form of medical error.
Infant Cervical Dystonia Causes
Infant cervical dystonia can be congenital (hereditary), or it can result from the baby’s positioning at birth.
Finally, trauma to the neck, which causes infection and inflammation of the cervical muscles, can cause the disorder. Sometimes, when medical practitioners use incorrect procedures during delivery, cervical dystonia results.
When the delivering physician uses forceps or vacuum devices, it significantly increases the infant’s chances of developing cervical dystonia.
Infant Cervical Dystonia Symptoms
Symptoms that might indicate an infant suffers from infant cervical dystonia include:
- Head tilts in one direction, ear to shoulder
- Jerking head motions
- Chin pointing up at an angle
- Difficulty turning head to one side
- Head tremors
- Indication of neck pain
Infant Cervical Dystonia Diagnosis and Treatment
To date, medical researchers have yet to find a cure for infant cervical dystonia. The available treatment options serve mostly to alleviate symptoms and enable a happier, more comfortable baby or, in later years, child.
Some of these treatments include:
- Stretching exercises
- Medications, such as muscle relaxants and pain relievers
- Massages and heating pads to loosen the muscle
- Strength training exercises
- Flexibility conditioning
- Stress management
- Neck braces
- Surgery to cut the offending nerves and muscles
- Deep brain stimulation, which involves the placement of an electrode into the area of the brain that controls movement to interrupt nerve signals
- Botulinum toxin injections
Infant Cervical Dystonia Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my baby has Infant Cervical Dystonia?
If your baby demonstrates some of the signs and symptoms listed above, you will want to take them to a pediatrician for testing and evaluation. The doctor will record detailed medical history and perform a physical examination of your infant, as well as a simple head-turning test. The physician may also take MRIs, CT scans, and EMGs to diagnose the disorder.
Can Infant Cervical Dystonia be fatal?
Infant cervical dystonia is not life-threatening; however, it can cause dangerous secondary conditions.
Who is liable for Infant Cervical Dystonia?
An infant cervical dystonia lawyer will know how to investigate your baby’s condition and any possible causes that may lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. A doctor or facility may be liable for negligence or malpractice under certain conditions.
If a pediatrician fails to detect the condition early, it becomes more difficult to treat. The tests are simple, and if you bring your concern to your pediatrician’s attention, and they fail to diagnose, the physician may be liable for complications.
Furthermore, if the pediatrician fails to treat the torticollis, and your baby suffers from complications, the physician may be held for negligence.
What is the statute of limitations for Infant Cervical Dystonia?
Statutes of limitations for Infant Cervical Dystonia vary by state, varies depending on the state where your child was born. Each state has its own laws that apply in these cases, including a statute of limitations, a statute of repose, and the possibility of tolling for minors. Your attorney can help you understand the deadlines that apply in your case.
Infant Cervical Dystonia Glossary Terms
- Retrocollis – Type of Cervical Dystonia where the head tilts backward
- Laterocollis – Cervical Dystonia involving an ear-to-shoulder movement
- Ataxia – The loss of full control of bodily movements