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About Cerebral Palsy, And How
We Can Help
Did you know that nearly 10% of children born with cerebral palsy suffer from CP due to medical mistakes occurring during pregnancy and delivery? Many of these cases constitute medical malpractice, and, as such, the families and guardians of those suffering from cerebral palsy deserve adequate compensation to more effectively care for their loved ones. We break down the causes of cerebral palsy, its symptoms, and compensation options for those affected.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
At its core, cerebral palsy is a set of permanent movement disorders that appears in early childhood development as a result of deformation of or damage to parts of the brain. Though this can and often does occur during pregnancy, it can also happen early in a child’s life. In about one third of CP cases, children may also have behavioral, commutative, emotional, and intellectual issues as well; however, these symptoms are not landmark in diagnosing CP. Children with CP should receive equal opportunities to learn, as their intelligence ranges the same as the general population. CP is non-progressive, meaning the underlying conditions do not get worse over time, nor does an individual feel degenerative effects due to CP; though it’s important to note that the effects are still permanent. Additionally, the symptoms of CP may worsen, depending on the severity of the condition, as well as how the symptoms are addressed earlier on in life.
Most CP is Spastic Cerebral Palsy--around 80% of cases. Children with SCP usually have muscle tightness and stiffness, and therefore have problems with moving and grip strength. This type of cerebral palsy is due to damage in the motor cortex. Athetoid CP accounts for 10% of all cases, characterized by slurred speech and difficulty swallowing, as well as involuntary movement. Athetoid, or dyskinetic cerebral palsy comes from basal ganglia damage. Finally, Ataxic CP makes up the last 10% of cases, and mostly affects coordination, balance, and spatial recognition, due to damage in the cerebellum.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Though most often the cause of cerebral palsy is unknown, in the world of malpractice, the most common cause is a lack of oxygen flowing to the brain during delivery of the baby or monitoring of a pregnancy before delivery.
Some inherent risk factors not included in malpractice are:
- Being a twin
- Head trauma in early stages of life
- Genetic disposition
- Infections during pregnancy
- Premature birth
Mistakes during and right before labor (medical malpractice) account for 10% of children born with cerebral palsy. It is most often caused by hypoxia and asphyxia, which occurs when oxygen is cut off from the brain and body respectively; though CP may also occur due to premature delivery and trauma during birth. Trauma during birth cause telltale signs to the child in early stages of development, and we will cover those later.
The most common types of malpractice errors made that result in CP are:
- Neglecting or not noticing a prolapsed umbilical cord
- Delaying a c-section for an emergency or non-emergency
- Failure to treat infection during pregnancy
- Failure to monitor heart rates of the mother and child during pregnancy
However, it’s extremely important to note that although CP can occur because of malpractice, most cases are out of medical professional control. In other words, medical professionals can do everything right during a pregnancy and delivery, and CP may still occur.
Cerebral Palsy Side Effects
The side effects of cerebral palsy can be devastating and far-reaching. Some common symptoms and signs include:
- Trouble swallowing
- Speech impediments
- Vision and hearing problems
- Muscle stiffness
- Abnormal perception problems
Though there are dozens of symptoms beyond these, the telltale signs above are most often seen in cases of children with cerebral palsy. This is to say that a child may exhibit some, all, or none of these symptoms and still have cerebral palsy. The best way to tell is to seek a medical professional before filing a suit or consultation with a legal expert on the matter.
The Costs of Cerebral Palsy
CP can cost a family more than just emotional tolls and damages. Medical expenses including specialist appointments, therapy, diagnostic imaging, surgery, and medication are financially taxing. Obviously, the more serious the condition of a child with CP, the higher these expenses will be. But this is not to say that children who have a minor form of CP will not have similar or incomparable financial hardships, as each case is individually based. However, it is also important to realize that children with an intellectual, communicative, and/or behavioral disorder will most likely cost more for the family to treat and care for.
There are also more indirect costs of caring for children with CP (again, depending on severity and other complications), such as adaptive clothing and vehicles, special ed. programs, personal care attendants, and assistive devices. And although government benefits, NGOs, and early intervention services can assist children with CP, their scope and effectiveness is often limited by fiscal and time constraints. Fortunately for struggling families, there is a way to receive compensation through legal recourse if your child is eligible.
When is Malpractice Involved?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical institution or licensed individual representing an institution is responsible for serious injury or death of a patient under their care. This occurs when doctors and/or nurses fail to safely operate on or care for a patient.
In the case of CP malpractice, it’s important to know the signs of birth injury. This list commonly includes:
- Muscle stiffness and an arched back
- Excessive drooling
- Low heart rate and oxygen levels
- Weak or absent reflexes
For a comprehensive list, get a second opinion with a trained medical professional and legal counsel. These symptoms may have come about because of doctors and nurses failing to deliver a baby in a safe manner. If you notice any of these signs in your child, it’s important that you get in touch with legal experts immediately who can help you evaluate and file a suit for compensation, if possible. Consultations are often of no charge, and delaying could make it harder to seek compensation.
When do You Know You Have a Case?
CP is a difficult condition to treat and care for effectively without large sums of money. Some of the projected costs for CP reach upwards of $1 million dollars within a lifetime. And this does not factor in the emotional toll CP can take on a family. If your child was born with CP due to medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation. What are the next steps that eligible families can take? Contact the legal team that will secure your family’s future. WMWLaw will give you a much-needed consultation to decide if you can move forward on litigation against those responsible.
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Who Can You Trust with Your Case?
Navigating the world of medical law can be tricky; that’s why you need to go to the experts for help. Weltchek, Mallahan, & Weltchek is one of the top medical malpractice firms in the nation, and we didn’t earn that title overnight. If you’re considering a consultation and want to put your life back into your hands after a serious stroke, call us. You won’t be disappointed.
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