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Answering Some Questions About Cerebral Palsy and the Law

Cerebral palsy is unfortunately one of the most common neurological conditions a child is liable to suffer in the United States, with an estimated 1 in 345 children born being diagnosed.

It can be intimidating to try and navigate the fallout that comes in the wake of a cerebral palsy diagnosis, especially if you’re concerned the diagnosis arose as the result of medical malpractice.

But before you go seeking the help of a cerebral palsy lawyer in Philadelphia, here are some basic things to know.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy constitutes a class of neurological conditions affecting a child’s motor function, and there are actually many different specific types, categorized according to the symptoms and basic manifestations.

While all types of cerebral palsy all potentially adversely affect the victim’s motor function, one of the most common types is spastic cerebral palsy, which causes affected individuals from properly manipulating or relaxing specific muscles.

Those with spastic CP often struggle to control their movements and may have trouble eating or speaking, and symptoms are more pronounced when the individual suffers more significant injury.

Athetoid cerebral palsy is another common type of CP and produces a wide range of symptoms. Commonly, affected individuals have trouble controlling their movements and may exhibit harsh spasms.

Typically, athetoid CP affects the face and arms more than the legs, and as such affected individuals often have trouble eating, speaking or both.

One of the rarest types of CP is called ataxic cerebral palsy, which occurs as a result of damage to the cerebellum, which assists with control of fine movements. As a result, ataxic CP results in tremors and makes it difficult for affected individuals to execute precise movements. Often, those with ataxic CP struggle to balance or stand.

One other common type of CP is called mixed CP, also often called spastic-dyskinetic CP. Often, those with mixed CP unsurprisingly exhibit a variety of symptoms typical of more than one type of CP.

Cerebral palsy may also manifest as unique symptoms in babies under 6 months of age. Often, young babies affected by CP will feel stiff or floppy when you’re holding them. When lying on his or her back, the baby’s head and neck may appear overextended.

It is also important to note that the symptoms of CP can vary widely from individual to individual, and that this list is not complete; if you have questions you should consult a medical professional.

What Are the Causes of Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy most often results from any of a number of issues during the birthing process, some of which are preventable and others which are not.

The following are common causes of CP, though there may be others.

  • Preterm birth
  • Maternal infections
  • Placental abruption that interrupts oxygen supply to the baby
  • Head trauma during the birthing process
  • Birth hypoxia
  • Some infertility drugs
  • Failure to discover a collapsed umbilical cord
  • Failure to order a necessary C-section
  • Improper/negligent use of forceps or a vacuum extraction
  • Failure to properly treat jaundice/kernicterus/infection
  • Failure to identify and address other signs of fetal distress before or during birthing

In any case, CP is caused by abnormal brain development which usually arises as a result of injury to the brain, often caused during the birthing process.

What Are the Implications of and Prognosis for Cerebral Palsy?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cerebral palsy and typically the effects are lifelong, although they do not usually worsen with time.

Receiving appropriate and timely treatment, however, may help make it easier for the child to manage the symptoms so that he or she can lead a fulfilling and active life.

If you believe your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy arising from medical malpractice or negligence during birthing, make sure to reach out to a qualified cerebral palsy lawyer.

Proving Negligence: When to Seek Help from a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer in Philadelphia

There are numerous medical professionals that could potentially be held liable in a cerebral palsy suit, including but not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, obstetricians, and anesthesiologists. Hospitals and birthing centers may also be held accountable if negligence can be proven.

Proving medical negligence is necessary to bring a successful case for medical malpractice wherein the victim was subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

First, your case must be reviewed by a medical expert to determine the level of care provided and whether or not it met the standard for acceptable care in the State of Pennsylvania.

If it can be proven that the level of medical care provided during birthing was inadequate and that it caused the birth injuries that resulted in a child’s condition (and that the child and parent/guardian suffered damages, either emotionally, physically or financially), then you may have a viable case.

Working with an Experienced Cerebral Palsy Lawyer in Philadelphia

Figuring out where to start if you think you have a legal case can be intimidating, but Tom Bosworth Law is here to help. Don’t try to figure it out on your own. Our cerebral palsy lawyers in Philadelphia offer free case consultations. Contact us today if you think you may have a case.