Cerebral Palsy Lawyers in Philadelphia
Our Philadelphia Attorneys Have Won Over $2 Billion
For over 60 years, The Beasley Firm has been one of the preeminent law firms for birth injury litigation. We have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits for children with cerebral palsy, including over $15 million in cerebral palsy verdicts in 2012 alone. Speak with our Philadelphia cerebral palsy attorneys about your case; we're here to fight your battle.
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What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy refers to a group of disorders with similar symptoms rather than a single medical condition. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to a baby's developing brain, particularly the parts that control the body's motor skills, muscle coordination, and movements. The injury can occur at any point from the beginning of pregnancy to the first two years of the child's life.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for Cerebral Palsy
Most cerebral palsy is not preventable. The legal system focuses on the instances in which it was preventable, such as during the third trimester of pregnancy, the labor and delivery period, or the immediate period after birth while the baby is still in the hospital.
Cerebral palsy can be caused by:
- Hypoxia / oxygen deprivation during labor or after birth
- Infections during pregnancy such as Group B Strep
- Untreated high bilirubin levels or kernicterus
- Dangerously low blood sugar levels
- Untreated meningitis
In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the family can be awarded compensation for past, current, and future benefits if their attorneys can prove in court that it was negligent for doctors, midwives, or nurses not to recognize the signs and symptoms of a problem and treat it appropriately.
Risks of Infant Oxygen Deprivation
During the pregnancy or prenatal period and during labor and delivery, a baby's well-being must be closely monitored for any signs of distress, hypoxia, anoxia, or lack of oxygen. OB/GYNs have a wide variety of tools available to diagnose fetal distress. Doctors, midwives, and nurses should be able to see when a baby is in distress or running out of oxygen, and, once that process starts, the healthcare providers should deliver the baby right away to prevent brain damage.
Fetal heart monitoring is one of the most important ways to identify fetal distress during labor and delivery. By monitoring the baby’s heartbeat, doctors and nurses can identify potential problems, such as:
- Deceleration (Tachycardia)
- Slow Heartbeat (Bradycardia)
- Fast Heartbeat
Research suggests the average baby’s heartbeat (baseline heart rate) is between 110 and 160 beats per minute during labor. While some fluctuation is normal, it is imperative that medical staff monitor the heart rate for any pattern that might indicate oxygen deprivation or another concern.
Like many birth injuries, fetal heart rate monitoring mistakes are preventable. If doctors fail to interpret the fetal heart strip properly, or nursing staff is incapable of interpreting the monitor, the baby could suffer brain damage, seizures, and cerebral palsy.
How fetal heart rate monitoring mistakes can lead to cerebral palsy:
- Medical staff (doctors or nurses) misdiagnose information on the fetal heart strip and fail to perform an emergency c-section to avoid oxygen deprivation
- The doctor ignored potentially dangerous heart rate patterns on the strip, putting the baby at risk of oxygen deprivation and ensuing medical complications
- The individual (nurse or staff member) monitoring the heart rate strip fails to notify the doctor of potentially problematic patterns on the heart rate monitor
Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis: Symptoms & Treatment
The diagnosis is usually made by the time a child is two years of age, though some forms are diagnosed at two years of age. Early indicators include a lack of muscle coordination, not reaching milestones, delay in crawling or walking, stiff or tight muscles, walking on toes, or floppy muscle tone. In addition to causing problems with ambulation, cerebral palsy can also lead to problems with bowel and bladder function, breathing, speech, eating, swallowing, learning, vision, and hearing - the whole range of bodily functions that depend upon muscle control.
The three different kinds of Cerebral Palsy, classified by symptoms, are:
- Spastic diplegia, which results in stiff movements, issues with movement
- Athetoid, which results in loss of movement control
- Ataxic, which results in balance/depth perception issues
Seizures are among the first signs that your baby suffered a severe lack of oxygen to the brain. When you hear the word "seizure," you may think of a body shaking or convulsing uncontrollably. In newborns or babies, seizures can present differently.
A baby who is having a seizure may:
- Stare blankly
- Stop breathing/apnea
- Nod his/her head rapidly
- Blink rapidly
- Experience loss of tone
- Cry a loud-pitched cry
- Tighten their arm or leg
- Smack their lips
Every baby is different. Medication that may work for one baby may not work for another. Sometimes, when the seizures cannot be controlled by medication, Vitamin B6 and a ketogenic diet that is high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and calorie restricted may be added to the treatment regime.
Get a Medical & Legal Team in Philadelphia Working for You
Babies who were subjected to prolonged stress or deprived of vital oxygen during the prenatal period face lifelong medical problems and expenses. At The Beasley Firm, our specialized birth injury cerebral palsy team is made up of medical doctors with legal degrees and nurse paralegals who have worked for decades in the hospital, including in the labor and delivery and neonatal intensive care units.
Our team has won two of the largest medical negligence judgments in Pennsylvania state history, of $100 million and $55 million. We have also won numerous multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements, including a $3.75 million jury verdict in a county where medical malpractice plaintiffs virtually never win, and a $12.6 million jury verdict against a well-known local hospital. Our medical negligence and cerebral palsy lawyers in Philadelphia are nationally recognized and respected. Our team is often the team that other lawyers turn to for help with their most challenging and important cases.
Answers from Leading Philadelphia Cerebral Palsy Attorneys
As parents are informed that their child may have cerebral palsy (CP), many questions may follow. At The Beasley Firm, our Philadelphia cerebral palsy lawyers have handled countless birth injury cases involving cerebral palsy. We work with medical professionals, experts, and other individuals to create the strongest cases possible for our clients.
Are There Different Types of Cerebral Palsy?
Yes, cerebral palsy can be classified by the type of muscle disorder or movement difficulty. Frequently it is classified as spastic cerebral palsy, athetoid cerebral palsy, or ataxic cerebral palsy. However, sometimes it is classified according to how the muscle groups or limbs are affected such as:
- Quadriplegia - Both arms and both legs are affected.
- Diplegia - All limbs are affected, the legs more than the arms.
- Hemiplegia - Only one side of the body is impaired, the arm more than the leg.
- Triplegia - The majority of limbs are affected, generally two arms and a leg.
- Monoplegia - One limb is impaired, usually an arm.
It is important to remember that cerebral palsy is not the same as paralysis. In paralysis, the inability to move the arms or legs is due to nerve or muscle damage. In the case of cerebral palsy, the difficulty in muscle movement is due to brain damage. Even though a child with CP may not be able to move their arms or legs, they can still feel heat, cold, pressure or pain in those limbs.
What Is Spastic Cerebral Palsy?
The most common type of cerebral palsy, spastic cerebral palsy, is developed when the motor cortex undergoes damage. Symptoms are characterized by limited movement due to tight, stiff muscles.
What Is Choreo-Athetoid CP?
When the basal ganglia or cerebellum is damaged, choreo-athetoid cerebral palsy may result. This damage causes a lack of control and coordination when moving. Many children move involuntarily (though this often ends while they sleep), or experience difficulty with speech, reaching, grasping objects, or any coordinated movements.
What Is Ataxic Cerebral Palsy?
The word ataxic or ataxia means poor coordination or lack of muscle control. When the cerebellum, the portion of the brain responsible for balance, depth perception, and coordination is injured, the result may be ataxic cerebral palsy. A child with ataxic CP has low muscle tone instead of stiff or tight muscles as seen in other forms of cerebral palsy.
How Many Newborns Are Affected by CP?
It is estimated that one out of every 500 babies and up to 1 in 3 premature babies are affected with some level of cerebral palsy.
Is CP Hereditary or Genetic?
No. Cerebral palsy is not hereditary or genetic. It is a condition caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.
How Does CP Affect Child Development?
Typically, children with Cerebral Palsy have difficulty with muscle tone, balance, and motor skills. There may be developmental issues in areas such as trouble crawling & walking, a general delay in developmental milestones, difficulty in speech, lack of facial control, as well as other difficulties.
Do All People with CP Experience Developmental Delays?
No. Depending on what area of the brain is affected a child with CP can have motor delays, milestone delays, speech or cognitive delays, developmental delays or no delays at all.
Is There a Cure for CP?
No. Since cerebral palsy is a condition due to permanent damage to the brain, there is nothing that can reverse the brain damage once it has happened.
How Is Cerebral Palsy Treated?
Children who are diagnosed with CP may be treated with Botox, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or surgical procedures to help the muscles that are affected. In addition, some children may require physical therapy, occupational therapy or speech therapy.
What Kinds of Medications Does a Child with CP Have to Take?
It will all depend on the extent of the brain damage and muscle involvement. Infants or children who have seizures or epilepsy may require anti-seizure medications. Spastic cerebral palsy can cause painful muscle spasms that may require medications, nerve blocking injections, or Botox injections.
I Think My Child’s CP Was Caused by Malpractice. What Now?
At The Beasley Firm, our specialized cerebral palsy team is made up of doctors and nurses who have collectively worked over 25 years in the hospital, labor and delivery, and neonatal intensive care (NICU) units. Two of our nurses have extensive experience with births and witnessed thousands of deliveries. We understand the damage and pain that can ensue from an inadequately monitored pregnancy or an improperly handled birth.
If you think that your child’s injuries were due to medical malpractice, don’t hesitate to contact our firm. We have fought on behalf of our clients and their families since 1958 and will caringly come alongside yours to help you through this difficult time. Our attorneys have won record verdicts and settlements on behalf of our clients and established a reputation for success.
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, please contact The Beasley Firm for a free consultation with an experienced Philadelphia attorney at (215) 866-2424. Get started today.
Jim Beasley, Sr. and Marsha Santangelo tried a six-week-long medical negligence case on behalf of a brain injured child. The suit involved obstetrical negligence which caused a mother to deliver her baby prematurely and immediately after the birth, another doctor put the breathing tube into the baby’s esophagus instead of the lungs.
Achieving record setting verdicts & settlements for over 60 years.
Over $2 billion awarded on behalf of our injured clients.
Listed in Best Law Firms and recognized by Best Lawyers in America.
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