Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Symptoms of Cerebral PalsyIn August 2012, the family of a Staten Island teenage girl who suffers from cerebral palsy won a $100 million cerebral palsy lawsuit against the hospital where the girl was born. The girl and her twin sister were delivered three months early after hospital staffers allegedly failed to recognize the mother’s contractions before she went into labor—ultimately failing to prevent the pre-term birth.

Earlier, in April 2012, a New York medical malpractice lawyer negotiated a $5.3 million settlement in another cerebral palsy lawsuit. The New York family brought claims against the New York Presbyterian Hospital, alleging the medical staff there had failed to take steps to prevent the premature birth of the infant child, who was diagnosed with the symptoms of cerebral palsy.

If doctors and other healthcare professionals do not provide the standard level of medical care to expectant mothers, serious birth injuries such as cerebral palsy may result. Parents who believe doctors were negligent during delivery or prenatal care visits may benefit from speaking with cerebral palsy lawyers in New York. A successful case can result in substantial compensation to help pay for years of medical care.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of chronic movement disorders that affect body movement and muscle coordination. It’s the most common motor disability in childhood, with an average of 1 in 303 children in the U.S. receiving a diagnosis. The disorder is permanent, and ranges from mild to severe. Early signs usually appear at birth, or before a child reaches the age of three years.

What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy ranges from mild to severe, and may cause only a slight disruption in a person’s daily life, or create significant disability that impacts a person’s ability to manage even the simplest of tasks. Symptoms of cerebral palsy are usually categorized into three groups:

  1. Stiff muscles (spasticity)
  2. Uncontrollable movements (dyskinesia)
  3. Poor balance and coordination (ataxia)

Babies with cerebral palsy may have problems sucking and swallowing, have a very stiff body, or display floppy muscles and limbs. Older children may display similar symptoms, with decreased muscle tone and flaccid limbs, or increased muscle tone and stiff and rigid limbs. Children may also experience the following:

  • Seizures
  • Irregular breathing
  • Hearing, speech, and visual problems
  • Learning disabilities
  • Difficulty walking
  • Tremors or involuntary movements
  • Favoring one side of the body
  • Excessive drooling
  • Intellectual disabilities or mental retardation
  • Dental problems
  • Urinary incontinence

Symptoms of cerebral palsy typically do not worsen over time, unless the condition is not treated as it should be.

What are some of the causes of cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy occurs when the nerve cells in the brain are damaged. The brain can no longer deliver the proper signals to the muscles to make them move as they should, resulting in the common symptoms of cerebral palsy. Asphyxia, or lack of oxygen, is one of the most common causes of cerebral palsy. Various problems during delivery can lead to oxygen deprivation, including:

  • Umbilical cord problems
  • Excessive force during delivery—often caused by improper adminstration of the labor-inducing drug, Pitocin
  • Failure to perform a timely C-section
  • Failure to appropriately monitor fetal heart rate during labor and birth
  • Misuse of forceps or vacuums that result in brain hemorrhage
  • Untreated infection in the mother or baby
  • Mishandled shoulder dystocia (where the baby’s shoulder becomes caught under the mother’s pubic bone during delivery)
  • Failure to properly manage birth complications like breech presentation, premature birth, and oversized/underweight babies

Other events including a traumatic head injury or random gene mutation can also result in cerebral palsy.

How do doctors make a diagnosis of cerebral palsy?

Doctors make a diagnosis of cerebral palsy through various tests, including:

  • Brain scans, such as MRIs, cranial ultrasounds, and computerized tomography (CT scans)
  • EEG test, which is used to determine if the child has epilepsy, which often occurs with cerebral palsy
  • Blood tests

If your doctor makes a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, he may refer your child to other specialists in hearing, vision, speech, and developmental development to test for other conditions that are often associated with the disorder.

How is cerebral palsy treated?

Standard treatment for cerebral palsy includes medications to help improve muscle control, therapies to enhance functional abilities (such as physical and speech therapy), and surgery in cases where severe contractures or deformities need to be corrected.

Eligibility for a cerebral palsy lawsuit

Parents who believe their child’s disability could have been avoided may be eligible for a cerebral palsy lawsuit. A New York medical malpractice lawyer is best suited to go over the facts of your case. You can ask yourself some questions, however, that may help you determine if medical negligence may have been involved:

  • Did the mother experience complications before, during, or after the birth that were ignored, left unattended, or not handled in a timely matter?
  • Was there a time during the delivery that the doctors and nurses seemed to feel that something was wrong, resulting in a change of procedure?
  • Was the doctor absent for long periods of time during critical periods of the labor and delivery process?
  • Was a student left in charge of the delivery?
  • Were changes in the fetal monitor ignored, or were doctors slow to react to signs of fetal distress?
  • When parents asked about complications, did they get straight answers?

These and other questions can help you to remember the details of the procedure, which will be important to a New York medical malpractice lawyer.

Cerebral palsy lawyers in New York can help

Sometimes a baby is born with the symptoms of cerebral palsy and no one is at fault. Other times, when cerebral palsy attorneys in New York go over the facts of your case, it becomes clear that mistakes were made.

Parents and children who are victims of medical negligence deserve compensation. The costs associated with raising a child with a significant disability are astronomical. A New York medical malpractice lawyer at The Sanders Firm can help you put together a strong case to present in court, increasing your chances of negotiating a settlement or winning a jury award. All case evaluations are free, and we charge you nothing unless we win your case. Call us today at 800-FAIR PLAY.