Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit
Every year, about 10,000 babies are born with a medical condition called cerebral palsy in the United States. This means there are currently hundreds of thousands of children and adults in the country who exhibit at least one symptom of the movement disorder.
What makes these high numbers so alarming is that about 10 percent of those cases were caused by medical malpractice. More than 100,000 people must live each day with a sometimes debilitating motor function disorder that could have been prevented. That is not acceptable.
With all the advances in technology and medical knowledge, babies should not be straddled with a lifetime of challenges due to the carelessness or negligence of a doctor or medical professional. Fortunately, there’s hope.
Countless people have successfully filed lawsuits against those who caused preventable cases of cerebral palsy. Find out more about cerebral palsy and how a lawsuit might be able to help you get the justice you deserve.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is commonly referred to as a single disorder, but it is actually an all-encompassing term for any number of movement disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The word itself is descriptive of the issues: cerebral means relating to the brain and palsy means muscle weakness or problems.
There is still some debate on the exact causes of cerebral palsy, but it is generally believed to be caused by an injury to the brain while the organ is still developing. The damage is usually done to the region of the brain that controls movement, balance, and posture. It can be caused before, during, or shortly after birth.
Although symptoms can start to reveal themselves as early as a few days old, cerebral palsy is most commonly diagnosed in early childhood.
Cerebral Palsy Causes
The cause of cerebral palsy in many children goes identified. However, there are several factors that may increase the risk of cerebral palsy.
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Birth asphyxia
- Low blood sugar
- Long delivery
- Severe jaundice
- Medical malpractice
Signs & Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Because there are different types of cerebral palsy and levels of severity, the signs and symptoms can vary greatly.
Problems with motor skills are the defining feature of cerebral palsy. In some cases, a child may have trouble holding utensils and swallowing food because of the motor skills associated with the process. Other signs include stiff muscles, uncontrollable movements, and lack of coordination.
Babies may miss milestones like rolling over or crawling.
Movement is the main issue of cerebral palsy but cognitive problems also frequently arise in those with one of the disorders. In some cases, people may have cognitive impairments that include delayed language development, difficulty learning, memory problems, short attention span, social awkwardness, and anxiety.
Language is a major sign of cerebral palsy as well. Up to 88 percent of those with cerebral palsy have challenges with timing, vocal quality, and pronunciation of words while speaking. Another 25 percent of people with cerebral palsy are completely nonverbal.
On top of the other issues, victims of cerebral palsy may also suffer from low trauma fractures due to low bone mineral density and deformities. Posture and other motor issues can make it difficult for those with cerebral palsy to walk or be active.
Cerebral Palsy Life Expectancy
Children with cerebral palsy can live long and fulfilling lives. But, in situations where cerebral palsy is severe or care is inadequate, life expectancy can be significantly reduced.
Restricted mobility, seizures, respiratory issues, cognitive impairments, and other symptoms of cerebral palsy have been linked to a decrease in life expectancy. The more severe the symptoms, the more life expectancy decreases.
The good thing is that cerebral palsy itself is not a progressive disease, meaning the brain will not get worse over time. However, symptoms can sometimes become more severe.
Treatment Options for Cerebral Palsy
There is no cure for cerebral palsy. However, there are a few treatment options to help make someone with cerebral palsy more comfortable throughout their life.
Whoever has the disorder will often meet with a medical care team who will guide them on the best options. This team includes pediatricians, pediatric neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, development therapists, social workers, special education teachers, and more.
Each of these individuals can provide more information on things a child or adult with cerebral palsy can do to treat symptoms and make more informed decisions about life. For example, an orthopedic surgeon may be able to offer surgical options that could help treat muscle disorders or spastic movements. A speech-language pathologist could help a child with language disorders.
Pediatricians might also give medications to treat severe symptoms, like spasticity. Muscle relaxers could help relax stiff muscles.
What is a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit?
Most cases of cerebral palsy are congenital, but others are caused by some form of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice can happen before, during, or after birth and looks different in each case.
Before birth, a physician may fail to identify an infection in the mother that results in damage to the baby’s brain. During birth, a doctor may negligently use forceps to extract the baby, causing physical injury to the head. After birth, a doctor may fail to recognize a lack of oxygen to the baby.
In any of these cases, the parents and child may be able to file a lawsuit against the medical care professional or institution. Doctors and other medical staff have a legal duty to care for a patient. When they are negligent and cause harm to a patient, they could be held accountable in a court of law.
How a Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Could Help
Unfortunately, once a child suffers from cerebral palsy, it cannot be reversed. While a lawsuit will not be able to turn back the clock and fix the mistakes a medical professional may have made, it can help victims get their lives on a positive track.
Cerebral palsy sometimes means lifelong treatment in different therapies, surgeries, medications, long-term care, and excessive medical expenses. The costs can add up quickly and put a burden on the financial situation of families. If the injury was caused by someone else’s negligence and medical malpractice, compensation could be awarded to pay for all medical expenses as well as noneconomic damages like a reduced quality of life and pain and suffering.
Not only do victims get financial help but lawsuits can also help prevent future cases of cerebral palsy by punishing perpetrators of medical malpractice and raising awareness about the potential causes. If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you should contact a qualified attorney to find out whether you have a case.