Cerebral palsy is a blanket term describing a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle control. These neurological disorders appear during infancy or during early childhood and do not worsen over time. Cerebral palsy is most commonly diagnosed before the child reaches pre-school age, or roughly three years old.
In many cases, cerebral palsy develops from uncontrollable circumstances. However, in some cases, medical malpractice may contribute. Those who suspect that their child’s cerebral palsy was a result of malpractice should contact a birth injury lawyer as soon as possible.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy occurs due to abnormalities in the parts of the brain that control muscle movement. While cerebral palsy primarily affects movement, it may also impact other functionalities like the individual’s depth perception, sensation, and ability to communicate. In roughly one-third of cases, individuals will experience related issues such as epilepsy and difficulties with cognition.
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Symptoms of cerebral palsy may include:
- Tight or stiff muscles
- Ataxia, or lack of muscle coordination
- Spasticity, or exaggerated reflexes
- Crouched walking position
- Dragging a foot or leg while walking
- Scissor gait, characterized by small steps on tiptoe with no heel contact and bent knees
Cerebral Palsy Types
There are varying classification systems for cerebral palsy. These classifications are based on factors such as severity of the condition, motor function, and topographical distribution, or the affected body parts. Based on motor function impairment, the three main types of cerebral palsy are spastic, ataxic, and dyskinetic. A patient may also have mixed cerebral palsy, which shows a combination of different groups or categorizations.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spatic cerebral palsy is the most common form of the condition, affecting roughly 80 percent of patients. It is also referred to as pyramidal cerebral palsy. This type involves increased muscle tone, which leads to stiffness. As a result, movements may be difficult and awkward.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxic cerebral palsy creates issues with coordination and balance. This may lead to unsteadiness while walking, as well as difficulty performing rapid movements. Movements requiring high levels of muscle control, such as writing or reaching for small items, may also be difficult.
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is divided into two groups: athetoid and dystonic/dystonia. This type of cerebral palsy affects movement in the limbs – the hands, feet, legs, and arms. This causes difficulty with activities such as walking and sitting. Uncontrollable movements may cause the limbs to be slow and writhing or jerky and rapid. Occasionally, the tongue and face are also affected.
Cerebral Palsy Causes
Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the child’s developing brain. These issues can arise during virtually any stage of development as well as before, during, and after birth. In a number of cases, the exact cause may be unknown. This is why a birth injury lawyer is especially important for those who may believe that medical malpractice played a role.
Possible causes of cerebral palsy can include:
- Infections in the mother that affect the fetus during development
- Fetal stroke, which is a disruption in the developing brain’s blood supply
- Random gene mutations that affect the development of the brain
- Infections in the infant that cause brain inflammation
- Asphyxia, or lack of oxygen during a difficult delivery or labor
- Traumatic head injury during incidents such as a fall or car accident
Cerebral Palsy Lawyer
If parents or other loved ones believe that medical malpractice is to blame for a case of cerebral palsy, it’s critical to call a cerebral palsy attorney as soon as possible. Due to the difficult nature of proving the exact cause of each case of cerebral palsy, an experienced attorney is an important ally for parents.
An experienced lawyer can help to navigate the intricacies of the legal system and determine what evidence is needed to successfully prove medical malpractice as a direct cause. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can also help to provide support and ongoing legal advice.
Bachrach, Steven. “Cerebral Palsy.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, 1 July 2012. Web. 6 Feb. 2015. <http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/brain/cerebral_palsy.html>.
“Facts About Cerebral Palsy.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 6 Feb. 2015. <http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/facts.html>.
“NINDS Cerebral Palsy Information Page.” Cerebral Palsy Information Page: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). National Institutes of Health. Web. 6 Feb. 2015. <http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cerebral_palsy/cerebral_palsy.htm>.