Cerebral Palsy, also known as CP, is the group of medical disorders that affect muscle coordination and body movement. It is caused by brain damage that occurs while a mother is pregnant with a child, during delivery, or at childhood. The brain damage affects the messages that travel between the body and the brain, and this can lead to mild awkwardness in hand control or movement to practically no muscle control, which can significantly affect a person’s speech and movement. Where the injury occurs in the brain is important, because its location can affect the disorder and result in a number of medical conditions, including:
- Abnormal Sensation and Perception
- Involuntary Movement
- Mental Retardation
- Sight, Speech, or Hearing Impairment
- Mobility and Gait Problems
- Tightness or Muscle Spasms
How Brain Damage Can Lead To Cerebral Palsy
Any time a brain that is still in development sustains an injury, whether this damage is caused by genetics, developmental disorders, or disease, cerebral palsy may occur.
Unfortunately, medical malpractice is often responsible for causing injury to an infant, whether during delivery or pregnancy. Failing to diagnose any medical complications during pregnancy that eventually result in a baby sustaining an injury is one instance of medical malpractice. Extended labor that results in brain damage (caused by insufficient oxygen to the brain) is another example where medical malpractice has occurred. The use of analgesics or anesthetics on an infant result in side effects that result in brain injury is another example of medical malpractice taking place.
The Four Kinds of Cerebral Palsy
1) Dyskinetic or Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
2) Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
3) Spastic Cerebral Palsy
4) Mixed Cerebral Palsy (A combination of the three other kinds of CP)
Dyskinetic or Athetoid CP: Symptoms include slow, writhing, uncontrollable physical movements that tend to affect the legs, feet, hands, or arms. The muscles in a person’s tongue or face may occasionally be affected and cause drooling. During times of stress, the physical movements of someone with this type of CP will increase. These same movements will disappear while the person is asleep. Coordinating the muscle movements that are necessary for speech may be difficult. The medical term for this problem is dysarthria.
Ataxic CP: A rare form of cerebral palsy that affects coordination and balance. An unsteady walk with a wide step is common. A person with this type of CP can position one foot far from the other and have a difficult time with precise or fast movements, such as writing or fastening a button on a blouse. A person afflicted with Ataxic CP may have “intention tremor,” which begins with a voluntary movement, such as leaning forward to pick up a magazine. This movement may then result in tremors in the particular body part involved. The trembling may become aggravated as the person approaches the object they are reaching toward.
Spastic CP: Muscles are permanently contracted and extremely stiff. The medical word PLEGIA, meaning weak, or paralyzed, is added on the end of each type of Spastic Cerebral Palsy. The kind of Spastic CP that someone has depends upon which limbs are affected by the disorder. For example, QuadriPLEGIA means that all four limbs are afflicted. HemiPLEGIA means that just one side of the body is impacted by Spastic PC. Some people may have both their legs afflicted by Spastic Cerebral Palsy, and they may be able to turn their legs inward and cross them at the knees. Known as scissoring, this type of movement can impede a person’s ability to walk. Uncontrollable shaking on just one side of the body, known as hemiparetic tremors, may affect certain people afflicted by Spastic Cerebral Palsy. When these tremors become too severe, a person’s ability to move may be affected.
Mixed Type CP: This type of CP is a combination of the other three kinds of cerebral palsy. The most common mixed type CP is a combination of Athetoid CP and Spastic CP.
How To Prove Medical Malpractice
At Kenneth M. Levine & Associates our team of medical malpractice lawyers can determine whether your medical provider was negligent by not acting appropriately to prevent brain damage and CP in your child. Our medical malpractice lawyers can do this by carefully examining your child’s delivery and prenatal records. We also retain the services of skilled medical advisers that work with us to carefully look at fetal monitoring strips and lab results. For example, if the fetus did not get enough oxygen, which led to fetal distress and subsequent permanent brain injury or death because a doctor didn’t take proper action, an incident of medical malpractice has occurred. There also should have been a trained medical team present to operate the fetal heart monitor and observe and interpret the strip on a regular basis so that they could take action in case fetal distress were to occur. A slow heartbeat (bradycardia), an irregular heartbeat (cardiac arrhythmia), and a rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) are all indications of fetal distress.
Another cause of fetal distress is the fetal feces, also known as meconium. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can tell you whether fetal hypoxia-not enough oxygen to the tissues-occurred. It is always the doctor’s responsibility to diagnose whether abnormal blood pH is present. Acidosis, or a lowered blood pH, occurs when there is a buildup of acid level in the blood because the fetus did not get enough oxygen. Oxygen deprivation and an abnormal pH level have long been linked to babies born with brain injuries. A decreased pH level can lead to fetal distress, and, in most instances, it is important to perform caesarean surgery immediately.