Cerebral palsy affects an individual’s ability to move and maintain posture. It can also affect balance, hearing, vision, and intellectual development, depending on the severity of the injuries that cause it. In most cases, cerebral palsy is caused by injury to the motor centers of the brain, but because the brain is comprised of different layers that each have multiple functions, brain damage can cause a variety of health issues. Some may be easy to diagnose, and some may appear only as the patient gets older.
In many cases, it is the parents of the child that recognize movement issues that may indicate cerebral palsy, in which case the child should be screened and tested for brain injuries or any other illnesses that could cause these symptoms. If your child receives a diagnosis of cerebral palsy or another type of potential birth injury or if you suspect your child may have a birth injury, call a Mesquite City cerebral palsy lawyer with the Birth Injury Lawyers Group today at (800) 222-9529 to discuss your case.
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Degrees of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is caused by injury or some form of abnormal development of the brain. It usually occurs before birth while the baby is still developing in the womb, although damage to the brain at any time can cause it. For example, vehicular accidents or sporting injuries that result in brain trauma can lead to varying degrees of cerebral palsy in patients of any age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The symptoms and disabilities that an individual exhibits will depend on where, how, and to what extent his or her brain sustained injury or damage, as well as the age of the patient. Broadly speaking, when we speak of patients who are at least six years old, cerebral palsy is categorized on a scale of one to five as below.
Children with level 1 cerebral palsy can walk around at home and in the community on their own. They can climb stairs without having to use the railing, and they can run and jump but with limited speed and coordination. Balance issues may lead to movements that are awkward.
Children with level 2 cerebral palsy can walk around on their own in many settings and can climb stairs using the railing, but they will have some difficulty walking over long distances or balancing themselves on uneven surfaces. Walking on inclines or in crowded or confined spaces will be challenging for them. They can get around much better if they use an assistive device such as crutches or a cane or a wheelchair for longer distances. They will have a limited ability to run and jump.
Children with level 3 cerebral palsy can get around in most indoor settings using a hand-held mobility device. They can climb the stairs with some assistance and can push themselves in a wheelchair over short distances but will need assistance over longer distances.
Children with level 4 cerebral palsy can walk short distances at home but need support to maintain proper body positioning. They may also need help using powered mobility devices such as electric wheelchairs.
Children with level 5 cerebral palsy must be transported everywhere they go in a manual wheelchair. They will be very limited in their ability to keep their head upright, to sit upright, and to control the movement of their limbs.
There is no question about the debilitating nature of cerebral palsy for some children, and the higher you go up the scale goes hand in hand with higher treatment costs, more supervision, and less independence of the individual. If your child has any of these concerns, speak to our Mesquite City cerebral palsy lawyer to learn if you may have a birth injury case based on your child’s diagnosis.
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Causes and Treatments
The injuries that cause cerebral palsy may be preventable or nonpreventable. Nonpreventable injuries, as the name suggests, includes anything a doctor or his or her care team could not have stopped from happening. Examples include genetic mutations and abnormal brain development during pregnancy.
Preventable causes of cerebral palsy include doctor errors, administrative errors, the incorrect use of assistive devices during delivery, doctor inexperience, and infections or maternal health issues that could have been identified and treated prior to the baby developing brain damage or suffering a brain injury. Doctors are expected to know the risk factors and potential causes of birth complications and birth issues, and if they fail to screen for them or address them, that may be tantamount to negligence.
Once brain damage occurs, it cannot be reversed, and the patient will likely have to bear his or her injuries for as long as they live. Modern treatments such as muscle relaxants to loosen spastic muscles and various forms of therapy to help a patient overcome speech, physical, or mental disabilities can help. These therapies can be expensive and are usually needed very regularly—maybe even several times a week—depending on doctor availability and scheduling options.
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The Benefits of Legal Assistance
The medical and legal rules that apply to malpractice cases can be complex and difficult to understand. To file a malpractice case, you must prove that a specific instance of doctor negligence led to damages or injuries of a specific type and that certain costs, including financial, physical, and mental costs, accrued as a result. Doing this requires an understanding of local laws, insurance clauses, the types of proof that are acceptable in court, and filing a claim within the predefined statutes of limitations.
This is where we can help. From determining when and how your child sustained the injuries that led to cerebral palsy to negotiating with the at-fault parties responsible for those injuries, we may be able to help you pursue compensation for your damages, if any, that the law provisions for your specific case.
To get started, call the Mesquite City cerebral palsy lawyer team with the Birth Injury Lawyers Group at (800) 222-9529.