What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders involving brain and nervous system functions such as movement, hearing, seeing and thinking. The term cerebral refers to the brain and palsy refers paralysis or lack of control with one’s body. It is a disability resulting from injury to the brain before, during or shortly after birth. Approximately 8,000 infants born in the United States are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year.

The causes of cerebral palsy vary and may include:

  • Injury due to lack of oxygen in the brain
  • Bleeding or infections in the brain
  • Severe jaundice
  • Infections in the mother during pregnancy

In some cases, the injury is caused by low levels of oxygen suffered before or during birth. This can be the result of negligent medical care provided to the mother and child during the birthing process.

Signs of cerebral palsy may appear in the first months or years of a child’s life, typically prior to age three. In more than 80% of cases, symptoms are apparent within the first month of life. In instances where the infant’s brain is injured by low oxygen levels, there may be signs of this brain injury present at the time of delivery. However, it is very common for infants to experience the symptoms of cerebral palsy before an official diagnosis is given. Learn more about the symptoms of cerebral palsy.

Life with cerebral palsy varies based upon the severity of the brain injury. Some people require little or no assistance. Those with severe cerebral palsy may require special medical, educational, and social services. Cerebral palsy can put tremendous financial stress on the family of a child with the disorder. In 2003, the average lifetime cost of cerebral palsy-related expenses for one person was estimated at $921,000.

There are many factors that can cause cerebral palsy, including lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during labor and delivery. During labor and delivery, the mother is usually placed on a fetal monitor. This device monitors and records the baby’s heartbeat. If the baby suffers from a lack of oxygen, then there will be signs of this distress in the baby’s heart tracing. Doctors, midwives, and nurses are trained to know what measures are necessary in order to relieve the distress. If these measures do not work to correct the lack of oxygen and relieve the distress, then immediate delivery of the baby is necessary to prevent brain injury. If there is a significant delay in recognizing the distress, taking the appropriate measures to relieve the distress and/or in delivery of the baby, then a prolonged lack of oxygen can result in an injury to the baby’s brain. This brain injury can later be diagnosed as cerebral palsy. Alternatively, when improperly used, delivery instruments such as forceps and vacuums can result in bleeding into the brain or skull fracture.

If your child has Cerebral Palsy, and was injured during birth as the result of a surgery, medication, or other medical treatment, your child’s injury may be the product of medical malpractice. You need an attorney that has experience in dealing with birth injury claims by your side to make sure you receive all the benefits and compensation you are entitled to. You need experienced and aggressive attorneys like Dan Newlin & Partners to help you get everything to which you may be entitled. Call us at (407) 888-8000 for a free consultation and to have all your questions answered regarding your injury.