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Cerebral Palsy – Legal Information
Cerebral Palsy is the most common birth injury that leads to a medical malpractice lawsuit. The United Cerebral Palsy Associations estimate that more than 500,000 Americans currently have the disease. Approximately 10,000 babies afflicted with Cerebral Palsy are born in the United States every year. Cerebral Palsy is a condition caused by faulty development or damage to the area of the brain called the cerebrum, which is the largest portion of the brain that controls motor skills, higher mental faculties, sensations and voluntary muscle activities. The damage to a child’s cerebrum disrupts the brain’s ability to control movement and posture and can result in the loss of nerve functions in many different areas.
Cerebral Palsy is incurable and non-progressive, which means the condition will not worsen over time. Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy are usually very apparent before age 2 and can include difficulty with fine motor tasks, difficulty maintaining balance or walking, and involuntary movements. It is estimated that one-third of children with Cerebral Palsy are mildly intellectually impaired, and one-third are moderately or severely impaired. Other causes of Cerebral Palsy include infections during pregnancy and jaundice. Hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain, seems to be the main cause of Cerebral Palsy. Half of all Cerebral Palsy cases are the result of genetics, [but the other half of the cases are the result of medical malpractice].
The emotional and economic effects of this disease are hard-hitting. About half of the people afflicted with Cerebral Palsy need braces, walkers, or wheel chares to help them get around, and almost 70% have other disabilities, primarily mental retardation. Depending on the severity of a person’s disorder, they may need devices to help them with various tasks, specialized medical care, and educational and social services. It is estimated that lifetime care costs for a child with Cerebral Palsy may be in excess of $3,000,000!
Although the Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy vary from person to person and can change over time, the most common symptoms include:
- Poor head control
- Difficulty feeding and sucking
- Delays in motor development
- Lying in awkward positions
- Easily or frequently startled
- Delay in crawling, walking, pushing up on all fours
- Favoring of one hand over the other
- Abnormal crawling
- Overdeveloped or underdeveloped muscles (child will seem either floppy or stiff)
- Ataxia (loss of coordination and balance)·
- Athetosis (involuntary writhing movements)
- Spastic paralysis (abnormal stiffness and contraction of muscles)
- Motor impairment (writing and other coordinated tasks)
- Involuntary movements
- Slow overall development
- Speech, hearing, or vision difficulties
The emotional and financial cost to the child and family injured by medical negligence is catastrophic. In Cerebral Palsy cases it is essential that measures be promptly taken to preserve evidence, review the medical procedures in question, and enable physicians and other experts to thoroughly examine the birth records and injuries. If your child suffers from a serious medical condition caused by medical malpractice during delivery, it is important to contact a birth injury lawyer who can help you protect your child’s legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits within which you must commence suit so we highly recommend that you seek a birth injury attorney as soon as possible. If you would like us to give you a referral please call toll free at (800) 807-9530 for a confidential consultation or fill out our contact form and we will call you.