According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 800,000 children and adults in the U.S. are living with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy refers to a form of brain damage (clinically referred to as a neurological disorder) that significantly impairs an individual's ability to think, speak, walk and coordinate his/her movements. Each year about 8,000 infants are diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy may be caused by a number of different factors; in some cases, no cause can be identified. However, when cerebral palsy causes are discernible, they will involve some kind of trauma, which may include:
- Congenital abnormalities and/or genetic defects
- Maternal infections during pregnancy, such as syphilis, rubella, chickenpox or toxoplasmosis
- Infant infections, such as meningitis and other brain infections
- Fetal strokes
- Medical mistakes
Symptoms of the Neurological Disorder
The symptoms of cerebral palsy will not typically not be apparent until an infant is between the ages of 9 months and 3 years old. As they start to appear, symptoms of CP may include:
- abnormal muscle tone, ranging from too stiff to floppy
- difficulty walking and/or coordinating movement
- difficulty speaking, swallowing and/or drooling
- difficulty performing precise movements
- hearing and vision problems
- mental retardation
- seizures (In fact, the CDC reports that about 30 percent of all CP patients suffer from epilepsy)
When such symptoms arise, medical professionals will perform a thorough physical exam, along with blood tests, brain scans and MRIs, to confirm or rule out the presence of cerebral palsy.
Medical Mistakes Linked to Brain DamageSadly, medical mistakes account for many cases of cerebral palsy. They may be made before, during, or shortly after birth and may include:
- Excessive use of vacuum extraction
- Failure to diagnose and properly treat maternal distress, hypertension and/or infections (such as syphilis or toxoplasmosis)
- Failure to diagnose and properly treat fetal distress, jaundice, meningitis, brain infections and/or lack of oxygen
- Improper use of forceps
If you suspect that medical mistakes have contributed to your child's case of cerebral palsy, you may be entitled to compensation. Find out if you qualify to file a claim by contacting a national cerebral palsy lawyer now.