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 CP, securing $15 million in verdicts for CP cases in 2012 alone. We work with medical professionals, experts, and other individuals to create the strongest cases possible for our clients. Let our birth injury attorneys provide answers to your questions below.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?Cerebral palsy means “brain paralysis.” This injury is caused by damage to one or more areas of the brain in infants, newborns or toddlers, and it can lead to problems with muscle control, balance, and posture.
What Could Have Caused My Child to Have Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy can be caused by a lack of blood flow or oxygen to the baby’s brain either during pregnancy, labor and delivery, in the newborn period or after birth.
Common causes of cerebral palsy during the prenatal period or pregnancy are:
- Maternal diabetes
- Maternal seizures
- Prolong rupture of membranes
- High blood pressure
- Incompetent cervix
- Premature birth
- Poor nutrition
- Umbilical cord prolapse
- Placenta previa
- Placental abruption
- Multiple-birth pregnancy (twins/triplets)
The brain injury can also occur after birth and within the first few years of life.
Frequent causes of cerebral palsy after delivery:
- Any lack of oxygen
- Heart problems
- Metabolic or digestive problems
- Infant malnutrition
- Brain infection
- Medication errors
- Total parental nutrition mistakes
- Incorrect IV or intravenous fluid
- Low blood sugar after birth
- Bleeding into the brain (intraventricular hemorrhage)
- Damage to the baby’s brain tissue (periventricular leukomalacia)
- Jaundice, kernicterus or a high bilirubin level
- Lead poisoning
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 asspastic 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 Cerebral Palsy 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 Due to a Birth Injury or Medical 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 Philadelphia birth injury lawyers. 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.