It can be a shock for a family to learn that their infant has cerebral palsy, especially if it developed as the result of a doctor’s errors. Cerebral palsy is a condition sometimes caused by a lack of oxygen to a baby’s brain during labor or delivery. A child with this health issue often experiences lifelong physical and mental impairments that limit his mobility and the ability to care for himself independently.
If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you may be overwhelmed with worries about his health and how to provide for his medical care and the other assistance. Our experienced child injury attorneys are ready to provide legal assistance by determining if his condition is the result of medical malpractice. If so, there's a possibility that members of the delivery team—including nurses and doctors—or the hospital may be responsible for compensating your family.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects the motor centers of the brain, resulting in difficulties with walking, movement, muscle tone, or posture. It can also impair a child's intellectual abilities. Blindness, epilepsy, and deafness may be additional medical conditions associated with cerebral palsy.
There are three types of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic. This condition is most common. Problems include stiffness and difficulty moving the limbs.
- Athetoid. This palsy causes involuntary, uncontrolled, and abnormal movements.
- Ataxic. A child with this condition may experience problems with depth perception, balance, and walking.
How Birth Injuries Cause Cerebral Palsy
While there are other causes of cerebral palsy, medical malpractice either during pregnancy or the birthing process may contribute to this condition. These cases are even more tragic because the development of cerebral palsy was completely preventable.
Common medical mistakes:
- Failing to identify and treat the mother’s infections during pregnancy.
- Failing to monitor the fetal heart rate or recognize when the fetus is in distress and in danger of oxygen deprivation.
- Failing to schedule or perform a cesarean section when the baby is too large, overdue, or in distress.
- Allowing prolonged labor when the baby is stuck in the birth canal and can be deprived of oxygen.
- Failing to identify a prolapsed umbilical cord, which is an umbilical cord that drops before the baby and can cause the fetus to suffer the loss of oxygen.
- Improper use of forceps or a vacuum extractor during birth that causes brain damage.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Indicators of this condition aren't always apparent right after a baby’s birth. They typically become noticeable as he grows and potentially struggles with normal developmental milestones.
Symptoms to note include:
- Problems with sucking, swallowing, or eating
- Variations in muscle tone, including being too stiff or floppy
- Stiff muscles with normal or exaggerated reflexes
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Involuntary movements
- Delays in developing motor skills, such as pushing up on the arms, sitting up, and crawling
- Favoring one side of the body
- Difficulty walking
- Speech development delays and difficulties speaking
Treatment for Cerebral Palsy Is Ongoing
There isn't a cure for cerebral palsy. A plan may be developed soon after a diagnosis of cerebral palsy to assess a child's needs at various times during his life, along with modifications to your home that provide for his daily care.
Here are healthcare experts and other professionals he may need to assist with ongoing care:
- Pediatric neurologist
- Orthopedic surgeon
- Physical therapist
- Occupational therapist
- Speech language pathologist
- Developmental specialist
- Psychologist or psychiatrist
- Social worker
Treatment expectations depend on the severity of your child’s cerebral palsy. Medication may be prescribed to help control seizures, muscle spasms, and pain. Braces, wheelchairs, or other assistive aids allow for mobility. In some cases, surgery may also be required to align joints and bone in the arms, legs, or hips or to lengthen muscles and tendons and improve mobility. If spasms are a problem, surgery to sever nerves may be necessary as well.
Contact Our Experienced Child Injury Attorneys
Was your child’s cerebral palsy caused by medical malpractice? He could be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Mark Blane is an experienced birth injury attorney dedicated to fighting for the compensation children and families need to provide quality care for life. We represent clients throughout California. Let us help—call our San Diego office today and schedule your free case evaluation.