Cerebral Palsy Lawyers

More than 10,000 babies across the United States are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year. This debilitating condition causes mental, physical, and emotional consequences for those who are diagnosed. Many babies require ongoing medical treatment, which comes at an extraordinary cost. Although there are several causes of cerebral palsy, a large number of these babies suffer because of medical malpractice.

When a baby is subjected to birth injuries caused by medical malpractice, their families should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Those harmed may be entitled to compensation to help alleviate the financial burdens they face related to medical treatment and other expenses. 

The Malpractice Group has extensive experience helping families recover compensation after a baby suffers from a debilitating birth injury that leads to cerebral palsy. Our aggressive personal injury lawyers are dedicated to helping families get the justice they deserve. Contact The Malpractice Group as soon as possible to discuss your situation with a skilled and compassionate lawyer that specializes in cerebral palsy birth injury claims.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the name given to a group of non-progressive motor conditions. These conditions cause physical disabilities that continue throughout a person’s entire life. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the motor control centers in a child’s developing brain. This can occur before a baby is born, during the birthing process, and at any time up until the child reaches the age of five. 

The term cerebral is used to describe the affected area of the brain, the cerebrum, though other regions can be affected as well. The term palsy is used in reference to the disorder of movements people with the condition exhibit. Cerebral palsy can have varying impacts on people that range drastically. Some people only experience minor impairments, while others rely entirely on medical devices and assistance to live. Some people struggle immensely with performing tasks and require 24-hour care. Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, treatment and therapy can be used to help improve certain functions in some situations.

Generally, there are four different subtypes of cerebral palsy that a person can fall under. These include:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy: This type of cerebral palsy is most commonly diagnosed. Roughly 80% of patients with cerebral palsy fall under this category. Children who suffer from spastic cerebral palsy have lesions across the upper neurons of the central nervous system. The damage to the brain can lead to hypertonia, which can cause involuntary muscle contractions and spasms. This condition can be incredibly painful and lead to joint deformities, hip dislocations, scoliosis, and more.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: This subtype of cerebral palsy is least common, accounting for between 5% and 10% of all cerebral palsy cases. This condition is caused by damage to the area of the brain called the cerebellum. This area controls movements and fine motor skills. Ataxic cerebral palsy is non-progressive and commonly associated with hypotonia. Children with this form of cerebral palsy often have vision and speech impairments. 

Athetoid/Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: Around .27 out of every 1,000 births result in athetoid cerebral palsy. Accounting for 15% to 20% of all cerebral palsy cases, athetoid cerebral palsy is the result of damage to the basal ganglia. This area of the brain is responsible for regulating voluntary movements. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy or kernicterus are common culprits of this subtype.

Athetoid cerebral palsy is further characterized into three different subgroups based on the nature of a person’s movement. People diagnosed with athetoid cerebral palsy can be any of the three:

  • Dystonia: These people have involuntary muscle contractions that result in painful twisting motions and abnormal postures.
  • Athetosis: People with this form of athetoid cerebral palsy have abnormal muscle contractions, which causes slow and involuntary writhing movements.
  • Chorea: This type of athetoid cerebral palsy describes people who make irregular and unpredictable jerking movements.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy: This is a catch-all category that describes people with cerebral palsy who have a combination of the symptoms of each of the other three types. Some children may have both tightening and loosening of muscles and are impacted in a variety of ways.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a condition that can be caused by environmental factors, genetic factors, or a combination of the two. In most cases, birth injuries are the cause of these injuries. When complications arise during childbirth, it is crucial that medical professionals respond appropriately. If they fail to do so, it can result in cerebral palsy. 

Some cerebral palsy causes include:

  • Birth asphyxia or hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
  • Birth trauma
  • Brain bleeds
  • Abnormal fetal positioning
  • C-section problems or delays
  • Injuries caused by vacuum extractors or forceps
  • Having a low birth weight
  • Maternal infections spread to the child
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome
  • The improper management of fetal distress
  • Not managing high-risk pregnancies correctly
  • Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)
  • Placental abruption
  • Premature birth
  • Arrested/prolonged labor
  • Pregnancies involving multiples
  • Umbilical cord complications
  • Uterine rupture
  • Uterine tachysystole

These conditions do not guarantee that a child will develop cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is often preventable when doctors provide treatment that is up to the standard of care. When doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals cause injuries, it is crucial that families contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

Warning Signs of Cerebral Palsy

Babies who have cerebral palsy will exert various signs and symptoms to indicate their condition. There is no single symptom that indicates a child has this condition. Instead, an array of signs and symptoms are analyzed to determine if the condition is present and to what extent it impacts the child. Some of the most common neonatal signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy include:

  • Low birth weight
  • Seizures
  • Low APGAR scores
  • Diminished crying
  • Unusually large or small head circumference
  • Difficulties regulating body temperature
  • Feeding problems
  • Breathing problems
  • Hypotonia
  • Hypertonia
  • Anemia
  • Metabolic acidosis

There are some behavioral indications of cerebral palsy as well. These include:

  • Spasms and other involuntary movements
  • Poor coordination and balance
  • Unusual posture and limb positioning
  • Problems bringing hands together
  • Difficulties manipulating objects
  • Favoring one side of the body
  • An inability to reach developmental milestones like sitting, crawling, and walking
  • Having speech and language problems
  • Problems swallowing/excessive drooling
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Cognitive impairments
  • Behavioral/emotional problems
  • Incontinence
  • Moro reflex problems

In some cases, therapy can help improve some of the impairments babies have. Working with cerebral palsy attorneys will ensure you obtain the compensation you need to cover the expenses of cerebral palsy.

Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy

 

The diagnosis of cerebral palsy involves a review of the child’s medical history, as well as the performance of a physical examination. In some cases, neuroimaging with CT scans and MRIs may be plausible, especially when there are no established signs of cerebral palsy. These tests are beneficial in helping to determine when the injury took place and the likelihood of related conditions, like epilepsy, and the possibility of the child experiencing developmental disabilities.

Some children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy soon after birth, while the majority of patients receive their diagnosis before the age of two. There are instances where CP goes undetected until children start missing major developmental milestones. Although rare, some children are not diagnosed with cerebral palsy until they are between four and five years of age.

The type of cerebral palsy that affects a child can determine when a diagnosis is made. For example, children with spastic cerebral palsy are typically diagnosed with their condition between 9.6 and 11 months old in bilateral cases and 12 to 15.6 months in unilateral cases. Children with dyskinetic cerebral palsy are more commonly diagnosed between 6 and 8.4 months of age, and children with ataxic cerebral palsy are typically diagnosed between 12.6 and 30 months of age.

The degree of the disability often plays a key role in influencing the age at which a child is diagnosed. Severe impairments are often more predominant early on.

Diagnostic Testing for Cerebral Palsy

It is crucial that a baby is thoroughly examined after birth by medical professionals. During this examination, doctors will be able to determine the severity of the brain injury, the location of the brain damage and the type of cerebral palsy a child is suffering from. It is imperative that examinations are repeated overtime to ensure the condition is static. A variety of tests and procedures can be used to evaluate whether a baby is at risk for cerebral palsy. These include:

Apgar Scoring: The Apgar test can determine the overall health of a newborn within the first few minutes of their life.

Umbilical Cord Blood Gas Tests: Blood gas tests are used to measure the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. This can impact the acidity of the blood. If the blood is acidic, it can indicate that the baby suffered some form of oxygen deprivation, which could result in brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Reflex Test: This test helps diagnose cerebral palsy and developmental delays and allows doctors to monitor abnormal reflex development.

Developmental Testing: These tests determine whether an infant is meeting specific developmental milestones on schedule.

Muscle Tone, Posture, and Coordination Tests

Scanning for Coagulation/Blood Disorders

The use of neuroimaging can also provide insight regarding the type and extent of injuries. Some commonly used imaging techniques include:

  • MRIs
  • CT Scans
  • EEG
  • Ultrasounds
  • Evoked Potential Tests

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a condition that is classified based on the number of limbs involved. Each classification of cerebral palsy causes a different type of paralysis. These types of cerebral palsy can be as follows:

  • Monoplegic Cerebral Palsy: This type of cerebral palsy can affect any single limb on the body.
  • Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy: This classification of cerebral palsy affects two limbs on the same side of the body. For example, it could impact both the left arm and leg.
  • Diplegic Cerebral Palsy: This type of cerebral palsy impacts two symmetrical limbs. Although diplegia generally impacts the legs, other parts of the body can be affected as well.
  • Paraplegic Cerebral Palsy: This classification of cerebral palsy impacts both legs as well as the lower areas of the body.
  • Triplegic Cerebral Palsy: This type of cerebral palsy impacts any three limbs. Some patients lose the ability to use one arm and two legs, while others are unable to use two legs and one arm.
  • Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy: Quadriplegia cerebral palsy is a type of cerebral palsy that impacts all four limbs. There are instances where other parts of the body are affected as well.
  • Pentaplegic Cerebral Palsy: This type of cerebral palsy impacts both arms, both legs, and causes an impairment to the head and neck as well.

Each of these classifications of cerebral palsy impacts a victim in many ways. From not being able to use a single arm to having a full-body paralysis, this condition often demands a lot of medical treatment and assistance.

Gross Motor Classification of Cerebral Palsy

This system classifies a cerebral palsy baby, child, and adolescent who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy into five basic groups. These groups are determined by grading various aspects of the condition. Some of the categories analyzed in making a gross motor classification include:

  • Movement Impairments: The GMFCS scale measures the person’s ability to perform various gross motor functions. This scale is based on independent performance and considers things such as a person’s balance, ability to walk, whether they use any medical equipment, and various other factors.
  • Age: The second category relies on the age group of the child. The different groups considered for this classification include those between the ages of 0 through 2, 2 through 4, 4 through 6, 6 through 12, and 12 through 18.
  • Performance: This classification reviews a person’s ability to perform various tasks in different settings. This area covers performance in schools, at home, or out in the community.

The person’s abilities will determine the level in which they fall under. The different levels are:

 

  • Level I: This person has functional gross motor skills but may struggle with balance, speed, and coordination. Level I classifications do not rely on any medical equipment or aid.
  • Level II: Level II classification indicates that a person has the ability to walk with some limitations and may need some assistance maneuvering over uneven surfaces and inclines.
  • Level III: These people have the ability to walk while using hand-held adaptive equipment. Some level III people may utilize wheeled mobility depending on the situation.
  • Level IV: This level indicates that a person is self-mobile but only with extensive limitations. Many people in this classification use powered-wheelchairs and need significant assistance while transferring. Some people are dependent on both adaptive and assistive equipment.
  • Level V: People in this classification have extreme difficulties moving. In many cases, people who are classified as level V require adaptive equipment, assistive technology, and the assistance of others for mobility.

 

Regardless of what classification a person falls under, they can expect to pay stacking medical expenses for their condition. When victims are injured by medical negligence, it is crucial that they get the justice they deserve and the compensation they need to cover the costs of care.

Gross Motor Classification of Cerebral Palsy

This system classifies a cerebral palsy baby, child, and adolescent who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy into five basic groups. These groups are determined by grading various aspects of the condition. Some of the categories analyzed in making a gross motor classification include:

  • Movement Impairments: The GMFCS scale measures the person’s ability to perform various gross motor functions. This scale is based on independent performance and considers things such as a person’s balance, ability to walk, whether they use any medical equipment, and various other factors.
  • Age: The second category relies on the age group of the child. The different groups considered for this classification include those between the ages of 0 through 2, 2 through 4, 4 through 6, 6 through 12, and 12 through 18.
  • Performance: This classification reviews a person’s ability to perform various tasks in different settings. This area covers performance in schools, at home, or out in the community.

The person’s abilities will determine the level in which they fall under. The different levels are:

  • Level I: This person has functional gross motor skills but may struggle with balance, speed, and coordination. Level I classifications do not rely on any medical equipment or aid.
  • Level II: Level II classification indicates that a person has the ability to walk with some limitations and may need some assistance maneuvering over uneven surfaces and inclines.
  • Level III: These people have the ability to walk while using hand-held adaptive equipment. Some level III people may utilize wheeled mobility depending on the situation.
  • Level IV: This level indicates that a person is self-mobile but only with extensive limitations. Many people in this classification use powered-wheelchairs and need significant assistance while transferring. Some people are dependent on both adaptive and assistive equipment.
  • Level V: People in this classification have extreme difficulties moving. In many cases, people who are classified as level V require adaptive equipment, assistive technology, and the assistance of others for mobility.

Regardless of what classification a person falls under, they can expect to pay stacking medical expenses for their condition. When victims are injured by medical negligence, it is crucial that they get the justice they deserve and the compensation they need to cover the costs of care.

Manual Ability Classification of Cerebral Palsy

The Manual Ability Classification System is used to categorize a person’s cerebral palsy based on the patient’s ability to manipulate objects using their hands. This ability is closely tied to having the ability to complete various tasks without assistance. This rating is completed on a child who is between the ages of 4 and 18. This test classifies patients as any of the five categories. These are: 

  • MACS Level I: These children can handle objects without any complications.
  • MACS Level II: These children can handle objects very well but with slower speed and lesser quality.
  • MACS Level III: These children have some difficulties handling objects and often require some assistance.
  • MACS Level IV: These children can handle certain types of objects, but it is difficult. These children often require assistance from others.
  • MACS Level V: These children are extremely limited in their ability to perform tasks.

The classification provided can improve somewhat with therapy, which comes at a steep cost.

Communication Function Classification of Cerebral Palsy

The final classification surrounds the ability of people with cerebral palsy to communicate with others. This category is rated on five different levels as well. These levels represent people who:

  • CFCS Level I: These patients are able to effectively send and receive communicative messages with both familiar and unfamiliar people.
  • CFCS Level II: These people can effectively send and receive communicative messages with both unfamiliar and familiar partners but they are slow in doing so.
  • CFCS Level III: These children are able to send and receive messages with familiar partners but can have problems communicating with people they are not familiar with.
  • CFCS Level IV: These people experience inconsistencies in sending and receiving communication with familiar partners. These patients rarely have the ability to communicate with unfamiliar people.
  • CFCS Level V: People with this classification are rarely able to communicate with either familiar or unfamiliar people.

Speech and other types of therapy are available to help improve communication for some. Though the results are not always promising, improvements can be made under some circumstances.

Treatment Options for Cerebral Palsy

Children with cerebral palsy require several types of treatment. Many children rely on medical devices and medications indefinitely. The type of treatment and therapy available depends on what type of cerebral palsy the child has and what impairments impact their life.

Some therapeutic treatment options available for children with cerebral palsy include:

  • Physical and Occupational Therapy 
  • Behavioral Therapy
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Surgery
  • Medications
  • Anticholinergic medications
  • Anticonvulsant medications
  • Baclofen
  • Botox
  • Anti-inflammatory medications

The goal of treatment is often to improve the quality of life these children have as well as to improve their level of independence. There are instances where modifications will need to be made to vehicles and homes to make it easier to transition between locations. Although these treatments can help those suffering from cerebral palsy improve their motor skills and perform tasks independently, the treatments not only take a substantial time commitment but they are also very costly. The unfortunate fact that many newborn babies and infants suffer these long-long impairments that may have been caused by a medical professional makes the injury even more devastating.

When negligent medical professionals cause these debilitating conditions, it is crucial to contact cerebral palsy lawyers in your area to protect your legal rights. Families may be able to obtain compensation to alleviate the expenses of cerebral palsy and help them move forward and gain some sense of normalcy.

The Malpractice Group Can Help You

Cerebral palsy is a terrible condition that has both short-term and long-term impacts on a person’s life. In many cases, babies suffer overwhelming pain and face significant challenges with performing even the simplest task. Many babies who suffer from this condition require extensive medical treatment and assistance throughout their entire lives. If your baby suffered birth injuries that resulted in cerebral palsy, it is crucial that you reach out to a cerebral palsy injury attorney as soon as possible. Cerebral palsy law provides options for families to obtain compensation to help alleviate the financial burdens they face from these injuries and conditions.

Our medical malpractice attorneys at The Malpractice Group are dedicated to helping families pursue legal options available for them to get justice. Our team understands how difficult treating and managing cerebral palsy can be. For this reason, we strive to help families obtain the maximum amount of compensation available to ensure babies can get the medical treatment they need as they grow. If your child suffered birth injuries, due to the negligence of a medical professional, it is crucial that you act quickly to protect your legal rights. Contact The Malpractice Group today at (312) 561-4324 to schedule a free case evaluation to explore legal options available for you.