Understanding Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of neurological disorders that affect a person’s balance, movement, and muscle tone. The term “cerebral” refers to it being a disorder of the brain, while the term “palsy” refers to a muscle weakness or problem. Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 323 children has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy typically appear early on in a child’s development. Some symptoms include:

  • Variations in muscle tone (being too stiff or too floppy)
  • Spasticity—stiff muscles with exaggerated reflexes
  • Rigidity—stiff muscles with normal reflexes
  • Involuntary movements or tremors
  • Difficulty walking
  • Problems swallowing
  • Delays in speech development
  • Delays in reaching motor skills milestones
  • Difficulty with vision and hearing
  • Intellectual disability

Causes of Cerebral Palsy 

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to or the abnormal development of the areas of the brain that control movement. It can develop before, during, and shortly after birth or in the first few years of life when the child’s brain is still developing.

One of the ways the brain can become damaged is as the result of medical negligence either before or during a baby’s delivery. Some factors that can contribute to the development of cerebral palsy include:

  • Premature Birth
  • During Pregnancy—Infections and fever in the mother during pregnancy can cause inflammation and result in brain damage, and as infections of the placenta or fetal membranes can contribute to the development of the condition.
  • During Labor and Delivery—lack of oxygen during birth, physical trauma to the baby caused by the improper use of forceps or other assistive devices, and infection passed to the baby during birth can all be contributing factors
  • After Birth—asphyxia, brain injury, and brain infection can also lead to cerebral palsy

A medical professional’s failure to order an emergency C-section when necessary or a failure to recognize when a baby is in distress during pregnancy and labor can unfortunately lead to a child developing CP. Failure to recognize and treat signs of prematurity can result in CP. In addition, traumatic deliveries and a failure to properly use assistive devices such as forceps can also be contributing factors.

Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy was the result of medical negligence, you should have an experienced medical malpractice attorney evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping New Yorkers injured by medical malpractice. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español