Cerebral palsy and birth injuries: What victims need to know

Cerebral palsy is a disorder that can result from damage to the brain during the birthing process.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a branch of the National Institute of Health (NIH), defines cerebral palsy as a group of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood and permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination. This disorder can result from damage to the brain before, during or after birth. The damage is not repairable and the results are permanent.

Cerebral palsy is not uncommon. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood and approximately 1 in 323 children have the disability.

Symptoms include:

  • Ataxia. A lack of muscle coordination when the infant or child attempts voluntary movements.
  • Spasticity. A stiffness or tightness in the muscles along with exaggerated reflexes.
  • Tremor. Shaking or involuntary movements.
  • Delays. A failure or delay in meeting milestones.

Causes include problems with the blood flow to the brain or head injuries. Asphyxia, the lack of oxygen in the brain due to an interruption, is not uncommon during delivery. However, a prolonged period of asphyxia can result in hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. This is a form of brain damage that destroys tissue in the brain. In addition to these causes, this form of damage can also result from low maternal blood pressure, a rupture of the uterus, detachment of the placenta or issues involving the umbilical cord.

Remedies available for victims

Medical professionals are held to a high standard of care. A failure to meet this standard can led to liability for any resulting injuries. For example, oxygen to the fetus is generally monitored during labor and delivery. If monitoring is not occurring or if there is unreasonable delay in medical intervention in the event of a disruption, the medical professionals that are caring for the patient may be liable for any resulting injuries.

In situations such as these that result in development of a disorder like cerebral palsy due to the negligent or reckless act of medical professionals, remedies may be available to victims and their families. These remedies can include monetary awards to assist in covering the high cost of medical expenses, therapy, medical devices and medications.

Importance of legal counsel

The medical professionals with the NIH note that the symptoms not only vary greatly among individuals but can change in an individual over time. Signs may become present during the early months of life, but diagnosis may not occur until the child is two years old or even later. This can make it difficult to immediately determine if complications during labor and delivery resulted in injury to the infant. As a result, pursuing a claim against medical professionals for this disorder can be difficult. Contact an experienced cerebral palsy malpractice attorney to discuss your options and better ensure your legal rights and any potential remedies are protected.

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