Throughout March, the Chicago brain injury lawyers are honoring National Brain Injury Awareness Month by taking a closer look at various types and aspects of brain injury. Today, we take a closer look at cerebral palsy, a type of brain injury which affects children and lasts for their entire lives.
Cerebral Palsy: The Basics
Cerebral palsy refers not to one specific condition, but to a range of chronic conditions. These conditions affect a victim’s muscle control, movement, and coordination. Cerebral palsy almost always originates from a brain injury in the womb, during childbirth, or in very early infancy. Victims suffer an injury to the part of the brain which manages muscle tone.
The inability to move and control muscles can touch every part of a victim’s life, from simple tasks such as walking, talking, and eating, to more complicated tasks such as working and playing sports. The effects are different, in type and severity, for each victim – because the brain damage each victim suffers is also different. Typical symptoms, however, include muscle spasms and tightness, involuntary movements (“twitches”), problems seeing, hearing, tasting, or smelling, and seizures.
Cerebral palsy falls into three overlapping categories: a victim may have one, two, or all three forms. First, Spastic Cerebral Palsy involves stiffness and difficulty moving. Second Athetoid Cerebral Palsy involves involuntary movements. Third, Ataxic Cerebral Palsy typically involves balance and depth perception issues. The Chicago brain injury attorneys of Passen & Powell have encountered and dealt with each of the three cerebral palsy types.
Cerebral Palsy: The Causes
At base, cerebral palsy is brain damage. It can be caused in several ways – many of which constitute medical malpractice. These include infection, sch as meningitis as a young infant, bleeding into the brain at a young age, particularly in premature infants, or lack of oxygen reaching the brain in utero or during delivery. The infant can suffer this oxygen loss when left too long in the birth canal, delivered with the umbilical cord around her neck, or delivered in a traumatic birth.
Often, the lack of fetal monitoring during delivery allows this injury to occur. The use of forceps and vacuum extraction, or the failure to institute a C-Section when called for, are other common culprits. Cerebral palsy can also result from the failure to provide proper infant just after birth. When jaundice, seizures, or meningitis go undiagnosed, the infant can develop cerebral palsy.
A top Chicago brain injury attorney can help you to determine what caused your child’s cerebral palsy, and whether legal action is warranted. Generally speaking, there is a good chance that medical negligence was to blame for your child’s cerebral palsy if any of the following occurred:
• Emergency delivery, particularly involving vacuum or forceps
• C-section, especially emergency c-section.
• Time spent in the NICU after birth
• The need for oxygen or CPR immediately following the birth
• Seizures as a newborn or infant
Cerebral Palsy: Treatment
There is no cure for cerebral palsy. In a few rare, extremely mild cases, cerebral palsy can be managed well enough to allow the victim to lead a normal life. In most cases, however, the best a victim can hope for is to “manage” the condition well enough to function.
The first step in treatment is assessing the individual victim’s condition. Then, doctors can create a treatment program specifically-tailored to the unique severity and type or types of brain injury which that victim suffered. Treatment plans generally include physical therapy – both professional and at-home, occupational therapy, treatment with a pathologist, and speech therapy – all expensive treatments. Medications, including anti-seizure medications, are often prescribed, and can cost hundreds of dollars each month. When properly handled, a medical malpractice action can lead to a settlement or recovery which can allay these expenses.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago brain injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.