Cerebral Palsy Lawyers
Over 10,000 babies in the United States are diagnosed with cerebral palsy annually. Cerebral palsy is a debilitating condition that is known to cause mental, emotional, and physical disabilities in children. Most babies diagnosed with this condition require extensive medical treatment that will last well into adulthood. Although treatment can be beneficial in helping babies regain strength and control of their muscles, it comes at a substantial cost.
If your baby has cerebral palsy as a result of a medical professional’s reckless or negligent actions, it is crucial that you reach out to a medical negligence attorney as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation to help alleviate the costs of medical treatment and other financial burdens you face moving forward with a child with this condition.
The cerebral palsy lawyers at The Medical Negligence Group are dedicated to helping families who are affected by medical negligence get the justice and compensation that they will need to care for their child. Our medical malpractice lawyers have extensive knowledge of the cerebral palsy laws in all 50 states. This allows our team to fight aggressively to protect the legal rights of innocent babies who have been affected by some form of medical negligence. Our law firm strives to help those harmed get the maximum compensation for their injuries, losses, and future medical needs. Contact our cerebral palsy lawyers as soon as possible to explore legal options available for you.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
People with cerebral palsy suffer from disabilities throughout their entire lives. This condition indicates that a person with it has suffered a form of severe brain damage that will continue to cause mental, physical, and emotional disabilities for the rest of their lives. Although treatment is available that can improve some of the symptoms that people with this condition experience, there is no cure.
Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of permanent movement disorders that appears in people during early childhood. The term itself is composed of two words, each symbolic of the condition itself. The name cerebral describes the area of the brain impacted by the condition. Although the cerebrum is the main area of the brain that is damaged in people with this condition, other areas of the brain can be injured as well. Conversely, the term palsy references the disorder of movements prominent in people who suffer from the condition. Though there are some patients who experience only mild challenges associated with this condition, many will experience severe difficulties in performing various day to day tasks with ease.
The range of disabilities a person has is determined by the type of cerebral palsy they are diagnosed with. There are four subtypes of cerebral palsy that a person can have. These include:
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy: This subtype of cerebral palsy is the most commonly diagnosed type in the United States. Around 80% of children who suffer from cerebral palsy fall under this category. Babies who have spastic cerebral palsy sustain lesions across the upper neurons located in the central nervous system. This type of damage can cause hypertonia, which often leads to spasms and involuntary muscle contractions.
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: Between 5% and 10% of cases in the United States fall under this subtype. People with ataxic cerebral palsy suffer from damage to the cerebellum. This area controls fine motor skills and movements. Children who have ataxic cerebral palsy often have speech and vision problems.
- Athetoid/Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: This subtype of cerebral palsy accounts for between 15% and 20% of patients in the United States. Athetoid cerebral palsy is a result of damages done to the basal ganglia. This area of the brain controls and regulates voluntary movements. In many cases, children suffer athetoid cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation. Athetoid cerebral palsy can be divided into three subgroups based on the impacts it has on patients. These include:
- Dystonia: People with dystonia experience painful twisting motions and have abnormal postures. This type of cerebral palsy also causes involuntary muscle contractions.
- Athetosis: This subgroup of athetoid cerebral palsy is characterized by abnormal muscle contractions. This results in unusual writhing movements.
- Chorea: This subgroup describes people who experience unpredictable, jerking movements.
- Mixed Cerebral Palsy: Babies diagnosed with mixed cerebral palsy experience a combination of symptoms associated with any of the three subtypes. In some cases, children with mixed cerebral palsy experience painful tightening and loosening of the muscles.
If your baby suffered an injury that should have been prevented by your doctor or you believe that their lack of action may have resulted in your baby’s injury and eventual diagnosis of cerebral palsy, call the lawyers at The Medical Negligence Group today to discuss your situation. Our legal professionals can help you determine if you have the right to pursue a claim for your child’s birth injury.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy can arise as a consequence of genetic or environmental factors, or a combination of both. Though there are a variety of cerebral palsy causes, many children are diagnosed with this condition after suffering brain injuries caused by something that a doctor did or did not do. Improper usage of child birthing tools, not diagnosing conditions affecting the mother or the baby, and not recognizing conditions like meningitis, fetal distress, or even toxemia can result in life-altering impairments to newborns. Doctors who don’t provide thorough and responsive medical treatment to babies when complications arise can have life-altering consequences. Some of the most common causes of cerebral palsy include:
- Birth asphyxia
- Trauma during the birthing process
- Brain bleeds caused by head trauma
- Giving birth to a child in an abnormal birthing position
- Problems or delays during C-sections
- Vacuum extractor/forceps injuries
- Being born with a low birth weight
- Infections spread from the mother to the child
- The aspiration of meconium
- Not managing fetal stress in an appropriate manner
- Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)
- Being born prematurely
- Placental abruptions leading to oxygen deprivation
- Prolonged or arrested labors
- Pregnancies involving multiple births
- Complications with the umbilical cord
- Uterine rupture
- Uterine tachysystole
It is essential to understand that these complications alone are not a sole indication that your child will develop cerebral palsy. Many cases of cerebral palsy can be prevented if the doctor or other medical professional acts quickly and appropriately should a complication arise. If medical professionals do not provide the appropriate care or act negligently, the parents of the baby can contact a medical malpractice attorney to explore legal options available to them to ensure that their baby gets adequate medical treatment.
Warning Signs of Cerebral Palsy
Babies who have cerebral palsy often exert an array of signs and symptoms. Although experiencing one symptom alone does not generally indicate that a child suffers from cerebral palsy, experiencing a combination of symptoms can prompt further investigations to determine if a child does suffer from the condition. Some of the neonatal signs cerebral palsy babies display include:
- Having a low birth weight
- Suffering from seizures or epilepsy
- Having problems regulating their body temperature
- Hypotonia or hypertonia
- Having a low APGAR score
- Experiencing diminished crying
- Having difficulties feeding
- Having breathing problems
- Having an unusually large or small-sized head
- Being anemic
- Having metabolic acidosis
Not only do babies display physical signs and indicators of cerebral palsy, but they often exert emotional and behavioral characteristics as well. These include:
- Having involuntary movements or muscle spasms
- Having poor coordination and balance
- Atypical limb positioning and postures
- Problems bringing both hands together
- Problems picking up or manipulating objects
- Showing favoritism toward one side of the body
- Not reaching developmental milestones on time
- Having problems speaking/language difficulties
- Drooling excessively
- Having difficulties swallowing
- Hearing and vision problems
- Showing cognitive impairments
- Problems with moro reflexes
Babies who experience these symptoms can sometimes improve their conditions through therapy. It is crucial to work with cerebral palsy lawyers to ensure you are able to obtain the compensation you need and deserve to alleviate the expenses of cerebral palsy.
Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
Doctors diagnose children with cerebral palsy by thoroughly reviewing their medical history. Additionally, doctors perform a variety of tests and carefully examine the physical appearance of the child. Many doctors use neuroimaging to detect and diagnose cerebral palsy as these methods enable them to see brain damages and injuries. Neuroimaging plays a critical role in determining where a brain injury occurred and the likelihood of it causing the child to experience specific complications.
Many children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy soon after birth, though it is essential to understand that the diagnosis can go undetected until around the age of five. The majority of children show signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy by the age of two when they start missing major milestones.
The type of cerebral palsy a child suffers from can play a critical role in the chances of it being discovered early on. For example, children who suffer from dyskinetic cerebral palsy are often diagnosed around the age of 6-months. Children who show less mild symptoms, like those with bilateral cases, may not be formally diagnosed until they reach 12-months to 16-months of age.
Diagnostic Testing for Cerebral Palsy
Diagnosing cerebral palsy in children can be done soon after birth. In order for a diagnosis to be made, the doctor will need to conduct thorough examinations. They will be able to determine if brain injuries are present and the severity of the brain injury. Through proper examination, doctors can also determine the location of the brain injury and the type of cerebral palsy a child suffers from. It is imperative that doctors perform routine examinations to monitor the state of disability.
Doctors are able to utilize numerous tests to determine the child’s risk for cerebral palsy. Some of the most common testing options include:
Apgar Scoring: This test is used to determine the state of various bodily functions after birth. The head size, breathing, pulse, and various other factors are taken into consideration by doctors, who then assign a score based on their performance. An abnormal Apgar score can indicate the presence of brain damages.
Umbilical Cord Blood Gas Tests: This test is performed to determine the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in a child’s blood. Blood gas can impact the acidity of the blood of a child and can indicate that the baby suffered from oxygen deprivation.
Reflex Test: Reflex tests uncover whether children suffer from abnormal reflex development or any developmental delays.
Developmental Testing: Babies often begin to sit, crawl, walk, and perform various other tasks around the same time. When babies fail to meet the developmental milestones on schedule, it can indicate that a brain injury may be present or that the child suffers from some type of cerebral palsy.
Muscle Tone, Posture, and Coordination Tests: Posture is the position that is taken by the body. There are several tests that can be done to determine the child’s hand-eye coordination. There are other tests done to determine the coordination between the eyes, the trunk, and the hands used to determine the person’s postural control.
Scanning for Coagulation/Blood Disorders
Neuroimaging is also extremely beneficial for diagnosing cerebral palsy babies. These tests can help detect brain injuries and provide crucial information regarding the extent of the damages. Some of the most common neuroimaging techniques include:
- Evoked Potential Tests (EPTs)
- CT Scans
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are various classifications of cerebral palsy impacting children across the United States. The classification of this condition is determined by the number of affected areas. Depending on the classification of cerebral palsy, children can experience varying symptoms and disabilities. The classifications of cerebral palsy can be any of the following:
- Monoplegic Cerebral Palsy: This classification of cerebral palsy is given when a child suffers impairments in any single limb.
- Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy: A child is classified as having hemiplegic cerebral palsy when any two limbs on the same side of the body are impaired. For example, children under this classification can suffer impairments in their left arm and left leg simultaneously with no other areas impacted.
- Diplegic Cerebral Palsy: This type of cerebral palsy impacts any two symmetrical limbs on the body. It is important to note that most children with diplegic cerebral palsy suffer impairments in both legs, but suffering impairments in both arms are also possible.
- Paraplegic Cerebral Palsy: Children who fall under this classification often experience disabilities in both of their legs and the lower area of their bodies.
- Triplegic Cerebral Palsy: This classification of cerebral palsy can impact any three limbs on a person. Some patients lose the ability to use both legs and one arm while others are unable to use either of their arms and only one leg.
- Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy: Children who suffer from quadriplegic cerebral palsy lose the ability to use both legs and both arms. In some cases, children are unable to use other parts of their bodies as well.
- Pentaplegic Cerebral Palsy: Children who suffer from this type of cerebral palsy not only have impairments in both legs and both arms but quite often, they are unable to move their necks or their heads.
Each classification of cerebral palsy can impact a child in a variety of ways. From not being able to use a single arm to suffering from full-body paralysis, it is apparent that cerebral palsy demands numerous medical treatment options and assistance.
Gross Motor Classification of Cerebral Palsy
This classification method is used to determine the severity of gross motor impairments a person suffering from cerebral palsy experiences. These five basic groups are determined by reviewing various aspects of the condition and assigning a grading level to them. In order to make gross motor classifications, doctors analyze criteria such as:
- Movement Impairments: Doctors will review each patients’ ability to perform various gross motor functions. A person’s balance, their ability to walk, and whether they need medical devices are key factors.
- Age: Different classifications are made based on a person’s age group. The groups include children between 0 and 2, 2 and 4, 6 to 12, and teens between 12 and 18 years of age.
- Performance: This criterion is used to determine the difficulties patients experience while performing tasks in various settings.
These abilities can fall under any of the following levels:
- Level I: These children have functional gross motor skills. In some cases, they struggle with balance, coordination, and speed, but do not need to use medical equipment or rely on aid.
- Level II: This classification shows that the child can walk with some limitations and may need assistance depending on the circumstances.
- Level III: These people require hand-held adaptive equipment.
- Level IV: These children are self-mobile but with limitations. Many use powered-wheelchairs and need help transferring.
- Level V: This classification indicates that a person has extreme difficulties moving.
Manual Ability Classification of Cerebral Palsy
This categorization system is used to determine the level of difficulty patients have with manipulating objects in their hands. Generally, MACS tests are only given to children between the ages of 4 and 18. These tests classify children in any of the following categories:
MACS Level I: These children have no problems manipulating objects.
MACS Level II: These children handle objects well but slower and with lesser quality.
MACS Level III: These children experience some challenges handling objects and require some assistance.
MACS Level IV: These children handle only certain types of objects with difficulties. These children often require assistance.
MACS Level V: These children have extreme limitations while handling objects and require extensive assistance.
Communication Function Classification of Cerebral Palsy
The final categorization is used to determine a person’s ability to communicate with others. Like other types of classification, CFCS classifications are divided into five different levels. These are:
CFCS Level I: Patients who are able to send and receive communicative messages effectively with both known and unfamiliar people.
CFCS Level II: These children can send and receive communicative messages well with both familiar and unfamiliar people, but do so at a slower rate.
CFCS Level III: These children are able to send and receive messages well with people they are familiar with. These people have some challenges with communicating with unfamiliar partners.
CFCS Level IV: These children experience inconsistencies while sending and receiving communicative messages between familiar partners. In many cases, communicating with unfamiliar partners is not possible.
CFCS Level V: This classification is given to people who are rarely able to communicate with anyone, regardless of whether they are familiar or unfamiliar to them.
Treatment Options for Cerebral Palsy
Children who have cerebral palsy have to use various treatment methods. Many grow dependent upon medical devices and medications well into adulthood. The type of treatment and therapy options available to children depends on the type of cerebral palsy the child has and what impairments affect them.
The majority of children who have cerebral palsy will go through therapy. Some of the treatment methods used include:
- Physical and Occupational Therapy
- Orthotic Devices
- Behavior Therapy
Many children also utilize medications to help alleviate pain and symptoms associated with their condition. Some of the medicines most commonly used by children with cerebral palsy include:
- Anticholinergic medications
- Anticonvulsant medications
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Even though there is no cure for cerebral palsy, treatment focuses on improving the quality of life for children who suffer from this debilitating condition. Furthermore, many children develop a sense of independence, so they do not have to depend on others for everything. In some cases, home and vehicle modifications are made to make it easier to transition between various locations.
Although there are several treatment options available to help improve the quality of life for children with cerebral palsy, they require a significant amount of time and money. When medical professionals cause these debilitating conditions, it is essential that families reach out to cerebral palsy lawyers as soon as possible. Families may be able to obtain compensation to help cover the long-term costs of medical treatment for children.
The Medical Negligence Group Can Help You
Cerebral palsy is a debilitating condition that makes performing even the simplest task a challenge. Many babies who suffer from cerebral palsy deal with endless pain and suffering. Although therapy and treatments are available to help ease some of the difficulties people experience, they will require treatment for the rest of their lives without the promise of ever recovering. The truth is that many babies suffer from this life-altering condition as a result of medical negligence. If your child has cerebral palsy, and you believe it is the result of a negligent medical professional, it is imperative that you reach out to a cerebral palsy attorney as soon as possible. You may have legal options available to you.
Our cerebral palsy attorneys at The Medical Negligence Group have decades of experience helping families recover from the tragic impacts of cerebral palsy. Our medical malpractice attorneys strive to help people who have been harmed by medical negligence hold the medical professionals accountable. Our experience in the medical industry, combined with our legal experience, places our team in a unique position to prove medical negligence, and get them the justice they deserve. Over the years, we have helped multiple families across the United States secure multi-million dollar verdicts for cerebral palsy claims, and we are dedicated to helping you get the maximum amount of compensation available. Contact our law firm today at (410) 220-6609 to explore legal options available for you.
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