An issue with the basal ganglia is what typically causes dystonia disorder. This is a part of the brain that helps to control coordination and movement. Due to the functions of the basal ganglia, those with dystonia disorder may experience a broad range of involuntary, repetitive movements and uncontrollable posturing. These symptoms may be intermittent or almost constant. They frequently affect a baby’s:
- Head, neck, and face.
- Arms and hands.
- Legs and feet.
- Vocal cords and throat.
Dystonia is rare, but according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), it is also the third most common movement disorder in the United States. It affects about 250,000 people—including both children and adults—nationwide. The only more common movement disorders are essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease.
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Types of Dystonia
One reason dystonia occurs more frequently than some other conditions is because it is actually an overarching term for many types of movement disorders associated with the basal ganglia. These are all neurological conditions that cause involuntary muscle contractions, unintended movements, abnormal postures, and pain.
How these conditions affect the individual’s body, their severity, and their progression can vary widely. In general, there are three groups of dystonia disorders that can affect infants: idiopathic, genetic, and acquired.
Idiopathic dystonia is actually not a diagnosis, but a reference to not knowing the cause of the condition. When a doctor rules out genetic and acquired causes, your child’s condition may be “idiopathic.”
There are several known genetic causes of dystonia, and research continues to identify others. Some of these causes are dominant traits, meaning the baby can inherit them even when only one parent carries the gene. If your child has genetic dystonia, your doctor may recommend genetic counseling if you plan to have more children.
Acquired dystonia is dystonia that occurs as a result of an injury to the basal ganglia during gestation, labor, delivery, or after birth. This may include traumatic brain injuries.
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Dystonia May Be the Result of a Birth Injury
While we know that damage to the basal ganglia is what causes dystonia disorder, it is not always clear what leads to that brain damage. Your doctor may diagnose your child with acquired dystonia if you are aware of a possible birth injury. This may include:
- Traumatic brain injury during pregnancy, labor, or delivery.
- Stroke, hemorrhage, or hypoxic brain injury.
- Long, difficult, or complicated labor and delivery.
If you were unaware of your child’s birth injury, the doctor may diagnose idiopathic dystonia instead. This does not mean your child did not suffer a preventable birth injury that caused their symptoms—it may simply mean that there is no immediate evidence of it. If there is evidence that a birth injury occurred, you may be able to use this information in a medical malpractice case.
A Dystonia Disorder Diagnosis May Support a Medical Malpractice Claim
If you believe your child’s dystonia symptoms stem from a preventable birth injury, you may be able to hold the responsible party liable. This can include any medical care provider, including a doctor, nurse or another medical professional, as well as the clinic, hospital, or other medical facility involved in your child’s birth.
A birth injury lawyer who takes on these cases in your state may be able to help you identify the liable parties, prove medical negligence, and take other steps to build your case. You may be able to seek damages that include:
- Current and future medical care and support for your child’s dystonia.
- Lost wages from your time away from work.
- Out-of-pocket expenses related to your child’s diagnosis and care.
- Pain and suffering your child endured because of their condition.
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Speak to a Member of Our Team About Your Potential Case
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group takes on medical malpractice cases involving birth injuries. We will review your case for free and offer our opinion about your best option for seeking compensation.
If we decide to work together, we can explain the deadlines for taking legal action in your state, the requirements for filing a claim, and the role an expert witness may play in your lawsuit. Call us now at (800) 222-9529 to discuss your child’s diagnosis, prognosis, and the possible causes of their condition.