What is Cerebral Palsy?
Neurological disorders in a number of different forms affecting motor abilities are characterized as cerebral palsy. Three of the most common types include spastic cerebral palsy, athetoid cerebral palsy and ataxic cerebral palsy.
Spastic cerebral palsy accounts for about 80% of all cerebral palsy cases. It is characterized by stiffness and difficulty moving because of tightness in one or more muscle groups. Patients with spastic cerebral palsy have a hard time moving from one position to another and have difficulty holding onto and letting go of objects.
Athetoid cerebral palsy accounts for about 10% of cerebral palsy cases. Athetoid cerebral palsy involves involuntary movement, difficulty swallowing, inability to maintain posture, slurred speech and low muscle tone.
Ataxic cerebral palsy also accounts for about 10% of cerebral palsy cases. Symptoms include depth perception problems, tremors, distorted sense of balance and difficulty with coordinated muscle movements.
Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive health condition. This means that, even though it is debilitating and serious, it will not get worse over time. However, this birth injury will impact the child for the rest of his or her life.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is one of the most serious long-term health problems that is caused by a birth injury. Most children that have cerebral palsy have had it since birth, most likely due to a lack of oxygen to the brain (hypoxia) or body (asphyxia), premature delivery or other birth trauma. It is possible for cerebral palsy to occur despite the best efforts of medical professionals. However, if medical malpractice is involved, common causes of cerebral palsy can include:
- failure to detect and/or properly treat any infections in the mother during pregnancy
- failure to monitor fetal heart rate appropriately before and during labor and birth
- failure to notice a prolapsed umbilical cord
- failure to plan and schedule a cesarean section procedure when a baby is too large to safely pass through the birth canal
- failure to perform or delay in performing a medically necessary cesarean section, and
- negligence or unreasonable mistakes in using instruments like vacuum and forceps in performing a delivery.
In the event of a birth injury due to medical malpractice, the parents can file a lawsuit on behalf of the child. Typically, damages can include medical expenses, pain and suffering (both mental and physical) and loss of enjoyment of life. Additionally, parents can sue on their own behalf for any emotional pain and suffering they experience due to their baby's injury.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Birth-related injuries and medical malpractice lawsuits can be extremely complicated due to complex legal and medical issues. It may be necessary to call in an expert witness to show that the medical professional responsible for your care acted negligently. Because of this and myriad other reasons, it is important to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.