Cerebral palsy, also referred to as Littles Disease or static encephalopathy, is a condition that encompasses several disorders that are the result of brain damage and affect posture and movement control. With symptoms that range from very mild to drastically severe, cerebral palsy symptoms can change over time and become more severe with age. First, documented by William Little (thus name Littles Disease) in the nineteenth century, the disorder was described by Little as a condition that causes stiff muscles in arms and legs.
According to Little’s documentation, early signs of cerebral palsy appear before children reach the age of three and are most often noticed when a child is slow to display certain early developmental characteristics. Cerebral palsy is believed to be the result of a birth defect that results from medical malpractice (negligence) that occurs shortly after or during delivery. To diagnosis cerebral palsy, a doctor tests a child’s reflexes, intelligence and motor skills and evaluates the child’s medical records. As soon as confirmation of cerebral palsy is determined, most children begin treatment as soon as possible. Approximately two or three children out of every 1,000 over the age of three suffer from some form of cerebral palsy.
Cerebral Palsy is the Result of a Birth Injury
Cerebral palsy is the result of a number of misfortunate events that can happen during pregnancy, labor, and delivery or shortly after birth which disrupt normal development of a child’s brain. Some of these events include:
- Infections like rubella, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus that occur during pregnancy
- Insufficient amount of oxygen supply to a baby before and during labor and delivery
- The birth of premature babies weighing less than 3.3 lbs (babies of such small birth weights are 30 times more likely to suffer an irreversible brain injury than others)
- Brain defects that include genetic abnormalities, chromosomal abnormalities or brain malformations
- Brain infections and head injuries during the first two years of life, referred to as acquired cerebral palsy
- Blood incompatibility between the baby and mother (untreated Rh disease)
Three major types of cerebral palsy are categorized by doctors, with sufferers sometimes displaying the symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy. These three major types include:
- Spastic cerebral palsy – This type of cerebral palsy is seen in approximately 80% of sufferers and is the result of stiff muscles which makes movement difficult.
o Spastic diplegia is when both legs are affect causing difficulty with walking and often producing a scissor-like gait
o Spastic hemiplegia is when only on side of the body is affected
o Spastic quadriplegia is when all four limbs and the trunk are affected
- Dyskinetic or Athetoid cerebral palsy – This type of cerebral palsy affects the whole body and accounts for 20% of all sufferers of the condition. Characterized by fluctuations in muscle tone, sufferers of this condition are afflicted with uncontrolled movement symptoms.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy – This type of cerebral palsy appears in the lowest of incidents (approximately 10% of the time) and affects precise coordination and balance
Cerebral Palsy Causes Devastating Consequences
Having devastating consequences to both children and their families, cerebral palsy that is the result of medical malpractice may get you some much-needed financial relief if you file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. While money can never turn back time, it may help make your life and that of your cerebral palsy sufferer easier. If you or a loved one suffers from cerebral palsy and think you may have a medical malpractice case, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Canadian medical malpractice lawyer to determine what your rights are and what compensation may be available to you.