Cerebal Palsy Diagnosis

Cerebral Palsy Lawyers – What Does a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis Mean?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood, often caused by negligent medical care provided during birth.[1]  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 in 345 children in the United States have CP.  Children with cerebral palsy typically require long-term specialized care and have associated conditions demanding extensive treatment.

If your child or a loved one was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is vital to plan for his or her future, as care can be exorbitantly expensive.  On average, treatment throughout the life of an injured victim will reach into the millions of dollars.[2]  Care, and other associated damages can drive this amount significantly higher.

If an avoidable birth injury impaired your child, your child has a legal right to pursue compensation from negligent care providers (including physicians and hospitals) for all damages resulting from their condition, including (but not limited to) pain and suffering, professional care, medical bills, therapy and rehabilitation costs, diminished wage-earning capacity, and other damages and expenses.  We have the experience, tenacity, and dedication required to take on negligent care providers and to demand from them the full compensation to which our clients are entitled.

Call our cerebral palsy lawyers at 248-591-2300 to schedule a free consultation.  Our compassionate legal team can listen to your story, explain your options, and seek the compensation due if medical malpractice occurred.

There is no fee for our services unless we secure compensation.  Further, we advance all litigation expenses while a case is ongoing (these expenses are normally repaid through a trial award or settlement if the case is successful).  Thus, you will not have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for legal fees or expenses as your case is being litigated.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affects a child’s ability to move, maintain balance, and hold a straight posture.[3]  Commonly, cerebral palsy is often caused by damage to the brain during birth trauma.  The brain damage leads to abnormal brain development that affects the ability to control muscle movement.

Symptoms vary from person to person.  For example, a child with mild Cerebral Palsy may walk with a limp.  Alternatively, a more severe case of cerebral palsy can permanently leave a child unable to walk, requiring the assistance of a wheelchair and lifelong care.

In addition to muscle movement or postural issues, children with cerebral palsy may also experience related conditions, such as intellectual disabilities seizures, scoliosis, joint problems and vision, hearing, or speech impairments.[4]

Are There Different Types of Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is classified according to the type of movement disorder involved.  Depending on the area of the brain affected, one, or a combination, of the following can occur:

  • Uncontrolled Movements (Dyskinesia)
  • Muscle Stiffness (Spasticity)
  • Lack of Coordination and Poor Balance (Ataxia)

There are four main types of CP:

  • Ataxia Cerebral Palsy. Children with this type of CP experience issues with balance and coordination.  Symptoms can affect highly controlled movements, such as writing, or can impact general steadiness or grasping of objects.
  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy. Individuals with dyskinetic disorders lack control of their hands, arms, feet, and legs, inhibiting their ability to walk or sit.  Often movements will be uncontrollable, ranging from slow and sluggish to rapid and jerking.  This form of CP can also impact control of the face and tongue, resulting in difficulty sucking, swallowing, and speaking.
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy. Individuals can experience a mixture of symptoms that fall within multiple types of cerebral palsy.  For example, children commonly have spastic-dyskinetic CP.
  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy. This is the most common form of cerebral palsy.  People with spastic CP have increased muscle tone, which results in extreme muscle stiffness that restricts movement.  Paralysis of single extremities, half of the body, or quadriplegia can occur.[5]

What are the Signs of Cerebral Palsy?

The signs of cerebral palsy can vary depending on the type of CP.  However, the main sign of impairment is delay reaching developmental milestones.  The following are some warning signs that can signify an infant has cerebral palsy:

  • Under 6 Months:
    • Stiffness
    • Head lags when a child is picked up from lying on the back
    • Floppiness
    • Overextension of the back or neck when cradled
    • Stiff legs that cross or scissor (when picked up)
  • Over 6 Months:
    • Inability to roll over
    • Inability to bring hands together
    • Difficulty touching the mouth
    • Reaching with one hand, while the other hand remains fisted
  • Over 10 Months:
    • Lopsided crawling
    • Scooting on buttocks or hopping on knees
    • Inability to crawl on all fours[6]

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is often caused by traumatic brain injuries sustained during the development of the brain.  According to the Mayo Clinic, common factors and causes of cerebral palsy include:

  • Fetal stroke caused by a disruption of blood supply
  • Brain bleeds
  • Infant Infections that cause inflammation in or around the brain
  • Traumatic head injuries from prolonged failure to progress or from the use of vacuum or forceps during delivery
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain related to difficult labor or delivery[7]

Tragically, many of cases of cerebral palsy are the direct result of negligent medical care during pregnancy and/or the birth process.   

What Kind of Treatment Does a Child with Cerebral Palsy Need?

Children may require one or several different treatment types, depending on how severe symptoms are and what motor movements are impaired.  Although initial brain damage cannot be reversed, early and aggressive intervention can improve the function of the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.

If your child is affected by cerebral palsy, it is vital to work with a healthcare provider to develop an individualized care and treatment plan.  Common types of treatment include:

  • Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation. Therapy is often started shortly after diagnosis or within the first few years of life.  Physical therapy can be one of the most critical parts of treatment, as it can improve muscle strength, balance, and movement.  Additionally, occupational, recreational, and speech and language therapy can improve the quality of life and function of persons with CP.
  • Orthotic Devices. Braces, casts, and splints can be used on affected limbs to improve movement and balance.  In severe cases, wheelchairs, walkers, and powered scooters can also assist with mobility.
  • Assistive Technology. Assistive devices, such as computer-based communication applications, Velcro-fasteners, and crutches, can help make the daily life of persons with CP easier.
  • Medication. Muscle relaxers and other medications to relax stiff or overactive muscles can be used to reduce abnormal movement.  Drugs are often administered by mouth, muscle injections, or infused into spinal cord fluid through a pump implant.
  • Surgery. Surgical intervention can be used to lengthen stiff or contracted muscles, reposition arms or legs, or correct spinal curvature.  If a patient is nonresponsive to other treatment, a surgeon may also be able to cut specific nerves to treat spastic movements.[8]

What Should I Do If My Child is Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy?

If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is critical to determine the cause of your child’s injuries.  Many cases of cerebral palsy result from avoidable birth injuries caused by negligent medical care (or medical malpractice).  When negligent care/medical malpractice occurs, all those legally responsible (including, but not limited to, physicians, hospitals, and other medical providers) are required to pay for the full damages associated with their negligence (including past, present, future damages).

When birth injuries are caused by medical malpractice, in addition to being focused on the care and treatment for their child, parents and guardians should also be concerned about securing the compensation needed to fully care for their child, and to recovering all damages associated with the birth injury (including past, present, and future pain and suffering).

We can help.

As cerebral palsy birth injury lawyers, we can pursue on your child’s behalf the full compensation to which your child is due.

We invite you to call us to schedule a free consultation to learn about your options for seeking the full compensation and how we can help.

[1] Cerebral Palsy, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/index.html.

[2] Economic Costs Associated with Mental Retardation, Cerebral Palsy, Hearing Loss, and Vision Impairment—United States 2003, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5303a4.htm.

[3] What is Cerebral Palsy?, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/facts.html.

[4] What is Cerebral Palsy?, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/facts.html.

[5] What is Cerebral Palsy?, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/facts.html

[6] What is Cerebral Palsy?, CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/facts.html

[7] Cerebral Palsy, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cerebral-palsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20353999.

[8] What are common treatments for cerebral palsy?, NIH, https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/cerebral-palsy/conditioninfo/treatments.

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