What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral PalsyAlthough mistakes may happen in every industry, there are some occupations where a professional’s mistake can cost a person their life. The medical industry is one of these. When health professionals make an error, such as submitting the incorrect lab results or failing to notice a bowel leak, it can make a patient’s condition even worse and lead to lifelong injuries, even potentially fatal ones.

One example of how medical negligence can lead to condition requiring long term care is birth injuries. One of the most common types of birth injuries with long-term effects is cerebral palsy. The Las Vegas medical malpractice attorneys at Claggett & Sykes discuss cerebral palsy in today’s blog.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a collection of disorders that affects movement, muscle tone, and posture in the body. This type of condition can happen when an infant experiences brain damage during the process of a difficult childbirth. When the supply of oxygen is partially interrupted to the baby’s brain, the brain cells begin to die, creating permanent damage. This can lead to symptoms like impaired movement, floppiness of the limbs and trunk, unusual posture, unsteady walking, and involuntary muscle movements.

What causes cerebral palsy?

For years, researchers thought CP was caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain during childbirth. The science, however, has changed over time. Any action that causes damage to areas of the brain while it is still developing has the potential to cause cerebral palsy in an infant. Head trauma during labor and childbirth, a delayed C-section, a surgical error – any of these examples of medical negligence may lead to a CP diagnosis for the baby.

Because a baby’s skull is very soft, any external trauma to the head can cause severe damage to the brain. Depending on whether a mother has a vaginal delivery or a c-section, a baby can experience external head trauma while passing through the birth canal or being forcefully removed from the canal with devices like obstetrical forceps. A mistake made during a c-section – either in terms of timeliness or negligence during the surgery itself – could also lead to CP.

How do I know if my child has cerebral palsy?

Because the signs of cerebral palsy are difficult to determine early on, your child may not receive a formal diagnosis for months or even years. Most children are not diagnosed with CP until 10 to 12 months after their birth. The general period for all children to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy is within 24 months after birth. However, there are some indications that an infant may have cerebral palsy based on their development stage.

For example, infants under six months old may experience symptoms such as feeling overly “stuffed” in their legs or arms, feeling floppy like a rag doll when they are picked up, failing to lift or control their head, or experiencing sudden contractions or movements. Infants between six and 10 months may experience symptoms such as failing to meet certain milestones, failing to roll over on their own, using only one side of the body with noticeable stiffness, and failing to bring their hands together or bring their hands to their mouth. Infants who are 10 months older may experience symptoms such as dragging their butt or hopping on their knees instead of crawling, having a limited ability of motion and poor motor skills, excessive drooling, or abnormal crawling and dragging on one side.

Does cerebral palsy get worse with age?

Although the symptoms of cerebral palsy do not worsen as the child becomes older, the damage to the brain can cause additional health problems for infants. Infants with CP are also at risk of suffering from epilepsy, hearing difficulties, vision and eye issues, bladder and bowel problems, and mental health conditions such as depression and behavioral concerns. As the child becomes older, some symptoms may become more or less apparent with time. However, muscle shortening and muscle rigidity can become worse when not treated specifically.

Is there a treatment for cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder that parents and child will have to manage for the rest of their lives. When a growing and developing brain suffers damage, that damage is unfortunately permanent. Although treatment for CP focuses on managing the symptoms and improving a child’s quality of life, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. Some of the treatment methods used to manage CP include a combination of medication, therapy, and surgery.

Although symptoms vary for infants with cerebral palsy, the general forms of treatment include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, medication, and surgeries. Young  children with cerebral palsy will need physical therapy to help with managing their motor function.

Through physical therapy, infants will learn how to improve their strength, posture, flexibility, balance, and coordination. For infants with cerebral palsy who experience speech issues, speech therapy helps to improve language and oral communication skills. Other skills, such as swallowing and eating, are also improved through the use of speech therapy.

Occupational therapy helps children with cerebral palsy improve their gross motor function skills. This form of therapy is beneficial for children who struggle with any type of physical independence due to cerebral palsy. Individuals with cerebral palsy may also benefit from medication to minimize muscle spasticity and involuntary movements.

If child developed cerebral palsy through medical malpractice, the Las Vegas birth injury lawyers at Claggett & Sykes can assist with your case. Put our trusted and compassionate attorneys on your side and see the difference it makes. Call us today at 702-333-7777, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. You can also schedule an appointment in our Reno offices.