Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the cerebrum, the part of the brain responsible for cognitive thought, voluntary movement, learning, reasoning, problem solving, speech and emotions. This condition is characterized by physical and mental impairments as well as developmental delays. Children with cerebral palsy may suffer from seizures, difficulty eating or swallowing, learning disabilities, severe muscle stiffness, involuntary movements, hearing and vision problems, difficulty speaking, or other complications. Medical malpractice during pregnancy, labor or delivery can result in cerebral palsy. If your child has cerebral palsy, an experienced Orlando injury attorney can help you understand your rights under medical malpractice law.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are four main types of cerebral palsy:
Spastic cerebral palsy, the most common type, is characterized by awkward or jerky movements and muscle stiffness in the legs (diplegia), on a particular side of the body (hemiplegia) or throughout the entire body (quadriplegia). Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is characterized by uncontrollable movements in the hands, feet, arms or legs. Ataxic cerebral palsy, the rarest type, is characterized by poor balance and coordination, as well as impaired depth perception. Mixed cerebral palsy involves a combination of two or more types, the most common being spastic/dyskinetic.
Cerebral Palsy Caused By Birth Trauma
When an infant is deprived of oxygen during labor or delivery, known as birth asphyxia, it can result in permanent brain damage. If the child’s cerebrum is damaged, he or she may develop cerebral palsy. In some cases, birth asphyxia is a direct result of medical malpractice. Below are some examples of medical mistakes that can result in birth asphyxia:
- Failing to properly monitor mother and baby
- Misreading a fetal heart rate monitor
- Delaying or failing to order a C-section
- Failing to anticipate potential complications
- Failing to respond to fetal distress
- Failing to respond to umbilical cord entanglement
- Failing to treat jaundice
- Misuse of medical equipment, such as forceps
- Pregnancy mismanagement
- Pitocin or other drug errors
Treating Cerebral Palsy
Depending on the type and severity of one’s condition, treatment might include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education, orthotic devices or wheelchair use, medications, surgery, and/or alternative treatments such as acupuncture or Botox injections. When cerebral palsy results from avoidable birth trauma, parents may be entitled to compensation under medical malpractice law, which can help pay for their child’s ongoing treatment and care.