Cerebral Palsy

Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy and its Causes

“Cerebral palsy” is a term used to designate a group of chronic neurological disorders affecting the parts of the brain that control muscle movement and coordination. The most common motor disability in childhood, cerebral palsy impairs a person’s ability to move and maintain balance, coordination, and posture. Depending upon which parts of the brain are damaged, and the extent of the damage, the effects of cerebral palsy may range from mild to severe; in all cases, there is no cure for cerebral palsy, although proper treatment and equipment can make it possible for sufferers of cerebral palsy to enjoy a full and happy life.

According to the CDC, about 1 in 323 children suffer from cerebral palsy, which can take one of five forms:

  • Spascticity—stiff muscles
  • Dyskinesia—uncontrollable movements
  • Ataxia—poor balance and coordination
  • Mixed—symptoms of more than one type

Cerebral palsy may occur before birth, during birth, within a month after birth, or even during the first five years of life while the child’s brain is still developing. In most cases (the CDC estimates between 85% and 90%), cerebral palsy is a congenital defect and is not the result of negligence or improper action; in other words, most of the time cerebral palsy is not something that could have been avoided with better care. In the remaining 10% to 15% of cases, however, cerebral palsy is caused by traumatic brain injury or a lack of oxygen to the brain that could have been prevented. In these cases, cerebral palsy may have been caused by medical mistakes, including:

  • the physician’s failure to monitor the child’s heart rate and oxygen levels during pregnancy and/or delivery
  • the physician’s failure to diagnose and treat certain conditions of the mother during pregnancy
  • the physician’s (or midwife’s) failure to perform a timely Cesarean section when this was needed
  • the physician’s failure to recognize or treat a child’s seizures
  • the physician’s (or midwife’s) failure to respond to fetal distress (such as the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck, etc.)
  • the misuse of the drug Oxytocin (Pitocin)
  • a trauma to the brain caused by the physician (or midwife) during the birthing process

It is not always easy to diagnose cerebral palsy early, but signs are usually exhibited by the time the child is 18 months of age. These may include:

  • muscle spasms
  • weakness/abnormal muscle tone
  • unusual posture
  • poor coordination/awkwardness in walking
  • involuntary movements
  • missing milestones for crawling, rolling over, and walking
  • problems with vision and/or hearing
Costs and Responsibility

While cerebral palsy is incurable, proper treatment and equipment can alleviate many of its symptoms and allow for a good quality of life. These treatments and equipment may include:

  • physical, occupational, and/or recreational therapy
  • medications to manage seizures and to alleviate muscle contractions and pain
  • braces and orthotics
  • wheelchairs and/or specialized suits to increase mobility
  • surgeries
  • speech therapy
  • specialized educational classes

Such treatment and equipment are expensive, however. The CDC estimates that the medical costs for children with cerebral palsy alone (without intellectual disability) are 10 times higher than those for children without cerebral palsy; and in cases where a child suffers from both cerebral palsy and intellectual disability, the medical costs are 26 times those of children who do not suffer from these problems. The lifetime cost of care for a person with cerebral palsy is estimated at about $1 million.

Although most cases of cerebral palsy are not the result of anyone’s wrongdoing, if your child’s disorder has been caused by medical malpractice, then the person(s) and/or institution(s) responsible for causing these lifelong physical, psychological, and financial burdens should be responsible for paying for care. Getting you the compensation you need to ensure your child the best possible quality of life is not easily done, however, since proving the cause of cerebral palsy is a complex matter. This is where an experienced personal injury attorney can help. Drawing on medical experts to help them, the lawyers at Needle Law P.C. Law Firm have the knowledge and experience to uncover the cause of your child’s cerebral palsy, enabling them to fight for your rights and those of your child.

We’re Here for You

The Needle Law P.C. Law Firm is a plaintiff’s attorney. That means that we have never represented an insurance company—and we never will. Our team of Cerebral Palsy lawyers are dedicated to helping you get the compensation you need to ensure the best care and highest quality of life possible for your child. If your child suffers from cerebral palsy, call us right away and let us fight for your rights. We’re here to help.