Cerebral palsy is a permanent illness that is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that control our motor functions. Depending on its severity, it can affect the movement, muscle tone, and posture of the patient. There are many types and various causes of cerebral palsy, but it is often caused by damage to the developing brain before or during birth. In fact, cerebral palsy is the leading cause of childhood disability in the United States.
The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy can manifest during infancy or as late as the preschool years. It can lead to a wide range of health issues, including:
- Impaired movement
- Abnormal reflexes
- Floppy or rigid limbs
- Abnormal posture
- Sudden or jerky movements
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty swallowing
- Problems with vision, such as an inability to focus
- Epilepsy or seizures
If your child exhibits any of these symptoms or if he or she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, we can help. The Birth Injury Lawyers Group assists families who suffered a birth injury find the care they need for their loved one and seek reparation for the damages that they suffer. Call today at (800) 222-9529 to learn more about your rights and the legal claims process.
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Types of Cerebral Palsy
A patient may suffer any one of multiple types of cerebral palsy and a specific set of symptoms depending on the type and location of his or her brain injury. The main types of cerebral palsy are as follows:
- Spastic cerebral palsy: This affects about 80% of all cerebral palsy patients. It causes stiff muscles and makes it difficult to walk.
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy: This leads to issues with controlling body movements, along with involuntary and abnormal movements in the hands, arms, and legs.
- Hypotonic cerebral palsy: This leads to issues with muscle tone and causes the arms and legs to move very easily in a floppy fashion, much like a rag doll.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy: This is a relatively uncommon type of cerebral palsy that is characterized by disorganized or clumsy movements. It can lead to problems with walking, grasping objects, and writing.
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Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal or damaged brain development. The root cause of neonatal cerebral palsy is not well understood, but a few risk factors that can lead to cerebral palsy include:
- Traumatic head injuries to the baby in the womb, during birth, as a result of the incorrect use of birth-related assistive devices, or after birth in a vehicle or activity-related accident.
- Insufficient oxygen reaching the baby’s brain as a result of infection or physical complications such as entanglement with the umbilical cord.
- Gene mutations, since these can lead to abnormal brain development.
- Infections in the mother that can affect the unborn child.
- A disruption in the blood supply to the brain of the unborn baby.
- Infant infections that lead to inflammation in or around the brain.
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Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
To diagnose a child with cerebral palsy, your doctor will first examine and then possibly test your child to identify where brain damage may have occurred and to what degree.
If your child or loved one exhibits any of the signs below, you should speak with a doctor to have your child assessed for cerebral palsy.
- Missing important motor-skill milestones such as sitting up, crawling, or standing
- Excessive drooling or difficulty with swallowing
- Learning difficulties
- Stiff or floppy muscles
- Difficulty balancing
- Slow, writhing movements
Cerebral palsy can affect the entire body, but it can also be limited to one limb or one side of the body. Since the injuries that cause cerebral palsy generally do not change over time, the patient’s symptoms usually do not deteriorate with age, but the health issues and challenges that the patient will suffer from will continue for as long as he or she lives.
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When to Seek Professional Help
You must identify the cause of your child’s cerebral palsy and arrive at an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. Speak to your child’s doctor if you are concerned that he or she may suffer from cerebral palsy or if he or she exhibits any of the symptoms discussed above. You should also speak with a legal professional to understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to insurance law, the payments and coverages you may be entitled to, and how to investigate a case of medical malpractice. When it comes to medical malpractice and negligence, you need to understand the types of evidence needed to build a case and how to identify and prove shortcomings on part of the medical team in terms of the treatment given to the baby and the expectant mother during her pregnancy, during delivery, and after delivery.
Treating Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy itself cannot be treated, but its symptoms can be combatted so that the patient can lead a somewhat normal life and overcome his or her disabilities. Doing this usually involves one or more of the following:
- The use of assistive aids to help the patient get by, such as walking aids, wheelchairs, body or limb braces, glasses, or hearing aids.
- Medications such as anticonvulsants to prevent shaking or muscle relaxants to prevent or reduce muscle rigidity.
- Surgery to relieve pain, improve mobility, release tight muscles, correct bone abnormalities, and improve joint alignment.
- Therapy (recreational, occupational, physical, speech, or social therapy) to help the patient overcome whatever physical, emotional, or speech-related issues he or she faces.
Giving your child the care and treatment that he or she needs and deserves can be expensive. To determine if your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical negligence and if you have grounds for a claim for damages, call the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529. Our experienced birth injury lawyers specialize in cerebral palsy cases and can help you understand insurance claims and what you need to do to build a case. We will also help you to meet administrative and regulatory deadlines and negotiate with at-fault parties responsible for causing your child’s cerebral palsy. We provide services on a contingency basis at no up-front cost, so call today for a free case evaluation.