Cerebral palsy is a broad medical term. It describes several different disorders. It arises from brain or central nervous system damage that a child may suffer in utero, during labor and delivery or from trauma or complications shortly after birth.
Cerebral palsy is non-progressive. It won’t get worse over time. However, cerebral palsy is a permanent condition. It can be managed through surgery, therapy and adaptive devices, but it cannot be cured. Often, cerebral palsy is caused by mistakes made by healthcare providers when providing prenatal or post-natal care or during delivery.
If a medical provider’s negligence has caused your child to suffer cerebral palsy, Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. can help to seek compensation that can include funds that will pay for your past and future medical costs. Call or contact us online today to learn more.
Causes of Cerebral Palsy
Brain damage or central nervous system damage is the underlying cause of cerebral palsy. Many factors can lead to this damage, including:
- Maternal infection such as rubella or toxoplasmosis
- Fetal infection
- Insufficient oxygen to the fetus due to umbilical cord problems
- Excessive use of Pitocin to induce labor
During Labor and Delivery
- Extended labor or failure to respond to signs of fetal or maternal distress
- Deprivation of oxygen to the brain due to a compressed umbilical cord, shoulder dystocia, a cord wrapped around the neck or other problems
- Stroke during the birthing process
- Head trauma caused by external forces such as aggressive use of forceps or a vacuum extractor during labor
- Untreated or severe jaundice
- Brain infections post-delivery such as meningitis
- Exposure to toxins or chemicals that damage the brain, such as lead exposure
Each of these different causes can result in brain cells dying or lesions forming on the brain. When the brain damage occurs, it is permanent and incurable. The child will experience the symptoms for the rest of his or her life.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy symptoms vary depending on the portion of the brain that was affected. The symptoms usually become apparent once a child has reached six months of age and begun moving or attempting to communicate. The child may miss developmental milestones such as walking, talking or crawling.
Common manifestations of brain damage that results in cerebral palsy include:
- Muscles that are too loose or too tense
- Difficulty controlling muscle movements
- Problems with fine motor skills
- An absence of balance or coordination
- An unnatural or unsteady gait
- Cognitive impairments
- Joint problems, including limited range of motion
- Muscle spasticity, twitching or involuntary movements
- Erratic or jerky movements
- Scissor or toe walking
- Problems speaking or swallowing
- Problems eating
- Excessive drooling
- Cognitive limitations
- Learning disabilities
By the time a child has reached the age of six, doctors and care providers should be able to diagnose how badly his or her lifelong impairment will be. The child’s cerebral palsy can also be classified into one of four types or categories of the disease.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
The different types of cerebral palsy that a child may be diagnosed with include:
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy – This is generally caused by an upper motor neuron lesion. It can cause erratic, jerky movements and problems relaxing the muscles.
- Athetoid Cerebral Palsy – This is a problem with muscles that are too tense or too loose – usually because of damage to area of the brain that controls coordination, reflexes and involuntary movements.
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – This occurs when there is a problem in the cerebellum. It causes problems with muscle movements, coordination and balance
- Mixed cerebral palsy – When something happens that causes cerebral palsy, such as deprivation of oxygen to a child’s brain during birth, different portions of the brain may all be affected. This can lead to severe impairment.
Who is Responsible for Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy can require the lifelong use of adaptive medical devices, therapy and other care. This can be devastating to the child and to the family, especially when the cerebral palsy was caused by a medical error that could have been avoided. These mistakes can be made by:
- Gynecologists and obstetricians
Any medical professional who fails to live up to the obligation to provide reasonable care can be held legally responsible if the failure directly causes brain damage and cerebral palsy. In some cases, care providers can be held accountable not only for their own mistakes but also for the errors of their employees. For example, if a hospital employs a careless doctor, that doctor’s negligence will be treated as the hospital’s negligence.
Our Lawyers Help Cerebral Palsy Victims in Chicago and Illinois
At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., we understand how frightening it is to face a cerebral palsy diagnosis for your child. We also know it can be overwhelming to think about taking legal action. However, Illinois law gives you the right to be fully and fairly compensated for all your losses, including funds to cover your child’s medical care.
Our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients with cerebral palsy and other birth injuries in the Chicago and Illinois area. We can help to eliminate the stress by putting our legal knowledge of cerebral palsy cases to work for you.
When you are ready to schedule a free consultation about your case, you can reach us by phone or through our online form.