Passen & Powell’s Chicago personal injury lawyers continue our discussion of cerebral palsy in recognition of national Brain Injury Awareness month. Today, we discuss cerebral palsy caused by medical negligence at birth. If you suspect your child’s brain injury may have been caused unnecessary delays at birth or medical malpractice, call our cerebral palsy birth injury lawyers at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.
Whether cerebral palsy could have been prevented depends on the circumstances of each particular case. In many cases, the answer is no, and children may develop cerebral palsy despite receiving the finest medical care. In some cases, however, the exercise of proper medical care could have prevented cerebral palsy. Although this is true regardless of whether the injury was suffered before, during, or after childbirth, cerebral palsy resulting from brain injury during childbirth, in particular, is often preventable. There are literally thousands of cases of cerebral palsy that might have been prevented had doctors, hospitals, and other medical professionals followed the appropriate standard of medical care. Only someone with the proper training and knowledge, such as our Chicago brain injury lawyers and the medical professionals with whom they work, can help determine whether a specific case of cerebral palsy could and should have been prevented, and whether your child is entitled to compensation for his or her injury.
Without discussing your case with an experienced medical practice lawyer, and having your child’s medical records reviewed by a top medical professional, it is impossible to know whether cerebral palsy acquired at birth should have been prevented. As a general rule, however, if any of the following occurred during labor and delivery, there is an increased chance that your child’s brain injury may have been preventable, and may be the result of medical negligence:
- Your baby was born through an emergency delivery, particularly if vacuum or forceps were used
- Your baby was delivered through c-section, particularly an emergency c-section
- Your newborn was in the NICU
- Your newborn was placed on oxygen to help him breathe
- Your newborn was transferred to another hospital, or a specialist was called in
- Your baby developed hypoxia, anoxia or hypoxic-anoxic injury (HAI)
- Your baby was given CPR shortly after he was born
- Your newborn or young infant suffered seizures
- Your child was given special testing after birth
Cerebral palsy can also be prevented when doctors and other medical providers properly recognize certain risk factors prior to delivery, and act accordingly. If more than one of the following risk factor is present, medical professionals should exercise particular care. These risk factors include:
- Incompatible blood types between the mother and baby
- A mother younger than 20 or older than 40
- A father younger than 20
- A first child
- A child who is the fifth sibling or more
- Certain types of infection in the mother early in her pregnancy
- African-American parents
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight (less than 3 and a half pounds)
- The presence of micro-organisms which attack the baby’s central nervous system
These risk factors and warning signs can provide a general idea of whether a brain injury acquired at birth was preventable. But only a thorough analysis can allow you to know for sure. If you would like to learn more about whether your child’s cerebral palsy was preventable, a leading Chicago birth injury attorney can help. We consult with the leading medical professionals in the country, and conduct a legal and factual investigation to determine what claims you might have, and against which possible defendants.
How is Cerebral Palsy Treated?
The first step in treating cerebral palsy is a detailed assessment of the severity of the particular case. Cerebral palsy is not progressive — meaning the condition does not get worse over time. Consequently, extremely mild case of the brain injury can, in certain cases, be overcome. In most cases, however, those living with more severe cases of cerebral palsy must learn to manage their condition with proper therapy and treatment.
Just as cerebral palsy manifests differently in each victim, each victim’s treatment program and plan must be tailored to his specific needs. A child with cerebral palsy may be diagnosed, and treatment begun, anytime from infancy through the first or second year of life, although beginning treatment within the first few months of a child’s life is rare.
One important component of almost any treatment plan is physical therapy. Physical therapy will be conducted both by a physical therapist and by an affected child’s parents, as instructed by the therapist. Other types of treatment can include work with an occupational therapist, and a speech expert, either a therapist, a pathologist, or both. Parents of a child with cerebral palsy should expect to commit a great deal of time and energy to participating in the treatment and various therapies of their child. Additionally, the cost of these treatments, both in terms of the expense itself and the opportunity costs to the parents from diverting a large portion of their time to these issues, can be extensive and overwhelming.
Children with cerebral palsy may require medical care and treatment through adulthood. These expenses can be astronomical when multiplied over the course of your child’s life expectancy. Still, those hard financial expenses pale in comparison to the emotional toll expended by the parents and other family members of a child inflicted with a debilitating and permanent brain injury.
Passen & Powell’s group of skilled brain injury malpractice lawyers appreciate the immense responsibility we have to ensure our clients and their families are compensated for yesterday, today and tomorrow. If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy may have been caused by the negligence of a doctor, hospital, or other medical professional, one of our brain injury attorneys can help you to find out.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago brain injury lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.