Cerebral Palsy Solicitors
Medical Negligence Compensation


LAWYER HELPLINE: 1800 339 353


Cerebral palsy represents a collection of neurological abnormalities that begin in infancy or early childhood. Cerebral palsy affects the coordination of muscles and the movement of the body, including speech and limb movement. The problem has nothing really to do with the nerves or muscles but instead it is damage to the brain that causes the symptoms you see with the disease. Most children with cerebral palsy are in fact born with the disease although it might not show up for several months. Some children do not develop the disease until they reach the age of three. The most common symptoms are coordination difficulties, involuntary movements of the muscles, stiff muscles or spasticity (stiff muscles). While most children are born with the disease, some children can develop cerebral palsy if they suffer from a bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis at a young age, or if they sustain a head injury from child abuse or a motor vehicle accident. Most cerebral palsy is not as a result of medical negligence and in the majority cases it will not be possible to make make a solicitors compensation claim.

Cerebral Palsy Solicitors


Our medical negligence solicitors deal with personal injury compensation claims relating to cerebral palsy. Our cerebral palsy solicitors deal with claims using the no win no fee scheme. To speak to one of our medical negligence solicitors about cerebral palsy just email our solicitors offices or complete the contact form or call our helpline. Our team of solicitors offer advice at no cost and with no further obligation.

Types of Cerebral Palsy


Doctors can define cerebral palsy by the type of movement problem noted, such as spastic CP or athetoid CP. It can also be defined by the parts of the body involved, such as hemiplegic CP, diplegic CP or quadriplegic CP. These involve cerebral palsy that affects either half of the body, the arms or legs only or all of the extremities. The CP may or may not result in ataxia, which is the balance and coordination part of movement. There can be some overlap in diagnosing cerebral palsy with so many different ways of identifying the disease.

Birth Process


No one has discovered specific events in the birth process that definitely lead to cerebral palsy. In fact, in developing countries where the neonatal death rate is high, there is no more CP than in developed countries. Interventions like Caesarean sections and foetal monitoring have done much to reduce infant mortality but have done nothing to change the rate of cerebral palsy. The incidence of having the cord around the neck is about 25 percent and the incidence of meconium at birth is about 16 percent. There is an extremely small correlation between these events and the development of cerebral palsy. Babies with low Apgar scores, on the other hand, had 250 times the incidence of CP than those infants with normal Apgar scores. Fifty percent of the infants who had severe asphyxia during the birth process did not develop CP at all. Some doctors believe that the low Apgar score is a sign of an already sick baby that may go on to show the signs and symptoms of CP. Suffice it to say that CP is more than likely due to prenatal abnormalities. Most cases of cerebral palsy will not give rise to a solicitors compensation claim due to the lack of evidence of negligence on the part of the healthcare provider.

Causes


Most cases of cerebral palsy have no known cause. This is especially true of cerebral palsy a child was born with. Preterm babies who don’t cry shortly after delivery or who need ventilator treatment shortly after birth for four weeks or longer have a higher risk of CP. In addition, infants who have bleeding in the brain have a higher risk of developing the disease. Birth trauma can rarely cause CP and children who have other abnormalities, such as heart, spine or kidney problems have CP as part of their disease cluster. Newborns with a seizure disorder can also get CP. Incidentally, some children have no newborn problems whatsoever and still go on to develop cerebral palsy, learning disabilities or even mental retardation.

A great deal of children with cerebral palsy have an identifiable congenital malformation that existed at birth and was not due to any specific birth abnormality. This means that parents with a child who has CP shouldn’t feel guilty about something they did or didn’t do during pregnancy or around the time of delivery. On the other hand, the foetal brain is really susceptible to toxins and medications taken during pregnancy so if this is the case in pregnancy, cerebral palsy can result. Even maternal trauma during pregnancy can make a difference in the incidence of cerebral palsy in the child. Alcohol used in pregnancy can get into the foetal brain and can result in CP. Cigarette smoking has less of an effect but it does carry a risk of cerebral palsy. Malnutrition in the mother is also related to the development of CP. Pregnancy-related infections, such as rubella, cytomegalovirus or toxoplasmosis seem to be related to the onset of cerebral palsy. Infants under 1500 grams are 25 times more likely to develop CP than a full term, normal-sized newborn.

Diagnosis


The diagnosis of cerebral palsy is usually a clinical one. The doctor determines whether or not the child has reached infant milestones. Things like spasticity are looked for. The doctor looks for abnormal reflexes. Gait abnormalities will be noted in older children. Most children can get a diagnosis of cerebral palsy or not by the time they reach 18 months. This is true unless the child suffers from cerebral palsy due to head trauma as a toddler. They can have severe symptoms in the beginning that settle down to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy secondary to trauma. The same child can be normal within another year, thus negating the initial diagnosis of post-traumatic cerebral palsy.

Many children who develop signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy get a MRI scan or CT scan of the head. There are no blood tests that tell if there is cerebral palsy or not, although chromosome studies might be helpful. The CT scan or MRI might show excess fluid on the brain, called hydrocephalus. Other things in the brain that might be causing the symptoms can be discovered or excluded. There is no single CT or MRI finding that shows the presence of cerebral palsy. In some cases, a scar can be seen on the CT scan that might indicate the presence of motor difficulties consistent with cerebral palsy.

Treatment


There are no medications to treat cerebral palsy although some anti-spastic drugs exist that can loosen the spastic muscles. The mainstay of treatment for cerebral palsy involves intensive physical and occupational therapy. The physical therapy is for strengthening the muscles and preventing excessive spasticity. The mainstay of occupational therapy involves using appliances, splints and other devices that make life easier for the cerebral palsy patient. Both physical and occupational therapy should be started as soon as the child is diagnosed with a movement disorder.

^^ back to the top

LAWYER HELPLINE: 1800 339 353