The term “cerebral palsy” refers to a group of disorders that cause issues with a person’s movement, balance, and posture. The word “cerebral” describes things that have to do with the brain. “Palsy” is a condition marked by weakness or lack of muscle control. Cerebral palsy gets its name from the abnormalities in brain development that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain control of their muscles attributable to this disorder.
The types of brain damage that cause cerebral palsy can happen while a child is still in the womb, during labor and delivery, or early in a child’s life while the brain is still developing. In some cases, cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage that occurs due to medical malpractice. When this happens, cerebral palsy patients and their families may have grounds to file claims against negligent medical providers and recover compensation for their losses.
At Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., we have years of experience recovering millions of dollars in compensation for victims of complex and catastrophic injuries. Some of our recent courtroom victories include:
- $15 million to a child who suffered kidney damage after their treating doctor wrongly stopped necessary antibiotic therapy.
- $11.2 million to our client after the hospital where she was being treated failed to order a CT that would have likely revealed the brain tumor that was pressing on her brain
- $2.5 million for our client injured by the side effects of medication unrecognized by their primary care physician
We know what it takes to hold negligent medical providers accountable and help our clients obtain financial relief. Contact us today to discuss the details of your claim in a free, confidential consultation.
Treatment for Cerebral Palsy
Unfortunately, the type of brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy can never be fully healed. Although cerebral palsy does not worsen over time, it is a permanent condition, so treatments tend to focus on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. Cerebral palsy treatment plans often include:
- Medications – Prescription drugs can be used to reduce seizures, improve muscle tone, and prevent involuntary spasms.
- Surgeries – Surgical intervention can help lengthen muscles and tends to help with stiffness and spastic muscle tone.
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy can help children improve their balance, posture, strength, flexibility, and fine motor control.
- Speech therapy – Speech therapy can help those who have trouble with language, communication, and eating independently.
- Occupational therapy – Occupational therapy tends to be highly individualized and helps those who struggle with physical independence.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are four main types of cerebral palsy, each classified based on the type of disordered movement that occurs:
- Spastic cerebral palsy – Involves increased muscle tone and stiff muscles, which can make movement stilted, awkward, or impossible. Spastic cerebral palsy can affect all areas of the body and may also cause cognitive disabilities. About 80 percent of people with cerebral palsy suffer from this condition.
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy – People with this type of cerebral palsy have problems controlling their hands, arms, feet, and legs, which can make it difficult to walk or sit. This disorder can also affect the face and tongue, making it harder to eat, swallow, or speak.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy – Ataxic cerebral palsy causes problems with coordination and balance. People with ataxic cerebral palsy often have trouble walking, quick movements, or activities that require fine motor control, such as writing.
- Mixed cerebral palsy – When people have symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy, their condition is referred to as mixed cerebral palsy. The most common form of mixed cerebral palsy is spastic-dyskinetic cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
The symptoms of cerebral palsy may differ depending on the severity of the trauma, type of cerebral palsy, and developmental stage of the child. Common signs of cerebral palsy in newborns and infants include:
- Inability to lift or control the head
- Overly floppy or stiff muscles
- Abnormal stretching of the neck or back
- Unusually stiff or crossed legs
- Seizures and sudden or involuntary contractions
- Inability to roll over without help
- Inability to bring hands together
- Closed fist, stiffness, or lack of control on one side
- Failure to meet standard developmental milestones
- Problems with vision, hearing, or speech
- Crawling abnormally or dragging on one side
- Limited range of motion or motor skills
- Excessive drooling
Common Causes of Cerebral Palsy
The CDC reports that cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability for children. Approximately 3 per 1,000 8-year-old children in the United States have been identified with cerebral palsy. Babies born prematurely or with a low birth weight are more likely to have cerebral palsy than other babies.
Medical negligence or malpractice is often the cause of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy often develops because of inadequate oxygen to the brain, which can be caused by medical errors, neglect, or mistakes, such as:
- Failure to recognize or adequately treat infections or other medical conditions that can affect the baby’s health
- Failure to recognize and timely respond to changes in fetal heart rate
- Failure to recommend or perform necessary Caesarean sections
- Failure to detect prolapse or other issues with the umbilical cord
- Improper handling of medical tools, such as forceps or vacuum extractors
When to Hire a Lawyer?
You might be wondering if you need a lawyer if you believe your medical provider’s negligence caused your child to develop cerebral palsy. If any of the following factors apply to your case, it’s a good sign you could benefit from the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney:
- Your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to unknown causes.
- You suspect or know that negligence was a factor in your child’s condition.
- You don’t have the resources to investigate the alleged malpractice.
- You have difficulty filing a claim for compensation for any reason.
- You are not sure how much your cerebral palsy claim could be worth.
- You need a professional who can represent you in court.
Possible Damages in a Cerebral Palsy Case
In a successful cerebral palsy case, you could obtain compensation that will go toward supporting your child for the rest of their life. Sometimes, the payments may be “index-linked,” which means your child could receive regular disbursements linked to the cost of inflation.
There are several types of damages for which injured victims may be entitled, including:
- Past and present medical expenses related to care for the condition
- Estimated future costs of medical care
- Costs of therapy, rehabilitation, and in-home accommodations
- Costs of special education and counseling
- Pain, suffering, and psychological distress
- Parental lost wages, if parents are forced to miss time at work
How Can a Lawyer Help Me With My Cerebral Palsy Case?
If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy stemming from medical malpractice or negligence, you already have enough to worry about. An attorney can help relieve some of the burdens you face and help you with your cerebral palsy case by:
- Explaining your legal rights and the options available to you
- Determining the causes of your child’s injuries and liability for them
- Investigating your claim to identify and preserve critical evidence
- Handling the paperwork, documents, and legal deadlines for your claim
- Estimating the value of your claim and demanding full compensation
- Working with experts who can provide valuable insight and possibly testimony
- Communicating with others on your behalf
- Representing you at trial and arguing your case before a judge or jury, if necessary
Contact ER Legal for Immediate Assistance
If you believe a medical provider’s negligence may have contributed to your child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis, contact the medical malpractice law firm of Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., as soon as possible. Our firm is uniquely equipped to handle serious personal injury cases, with a proven track record of outstanding results for clients in extremely challenging situations, including in complex birth injury medical malpractice cases.
With every case we handle, we prepare to fight for our client’s rights in court from day one. This extensive and deliberate preparation allows us to stay fully prepared and able to pursue the full extent of the compensation you deserve. We offer free consultations at no obligation to you, so contact us now to speak with a caring and attentive attorney.