Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood. According to the CDC, 1 in 323 children suffers from the effects of this disability. While more than half of the children with cerebral palsy can walk independently, they may still suffer from motor issues that prevent them from living a full life. In addition to motor disabilities, almost half of children with cerebral palsy suffer from other developmental disabilities. Some of those include epilepsy, vision impairment, and autism.
If your child was recently diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, it is important to understand how this disability will affect their life and their future. Your child may need specialized medical equipment and long-term care. Your child may require multiple hospitalizations and lifelong therapies.
HIE and Cerebral Palsy
Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) is a specific type of brain damage that can occur during labor and delivery or in the neonatal period when a baby’s brain fails to receive adequate oxygen and blood flow. HIE can be due to the negligence of doctors and hospitals. HIE is a cause of neonatal deaths and brain injury. HIE is also the most common cause of cerebral palsy.
There are numerous signs and symptoms that a baby may have suffered a lack of oxygen during labor and delivery. Some of the signs include:
- Decelerations in fetal heart rate
- Non-reassuring fetal heart pattern
- Meconium stained amniotic fluid
- Low Apgar scores
- Abnormal muscle tone
- Decreased heart rate of baby
- The presence of fetal seizures
- Abnormal vital signs
- Abnormal Blood Test Results
- Therapeutic Hypothermia after delivery
- Intubation after delivery
Long-term Effects of HIE
Babies who are diagnosed with HIE may suffer from a variety of long-term injuries. The severity of these injuries will depend largely on the severity of the lack of oxygen and how long the hypoxic episode lasted.
Babies with severe HIE may experience significant developmental delays, seizures, speech disorders, impaired vision, cognitive issues, problems with motor function, and cerebral palsy. Babies with severe HIE need lifelong treatment and care.
Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
A child is typically diagnosed with cerebral palsy after parents and pediatricians begin to notice developmental delays or poor muscle tone. Some of the early signs of cerebral palsy in infants and toddlers include:
- Delays in motor development
- Not holding head up
- Difficulty sitting up
- Not rolling over
- Delayed crawling
- Delayed walking
- Abnormal muscle tone (stiff or floppy)
- Favoring one side of the body
- Inability to stand even with support
- Delays in speech
When a doctor recognizes these signs, they may look for other motor developmental issues, such as spastic movements or poor coordination. There is no single test for cerebral palsy. Your pediatrician may refer you to a pediatric neurologist if your child has developmental delays.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are four types of cerebral palsy. Your doctor will determine what type your child has based on their movements and symptoms.
- Spastic Cerebral Palsy – this is the most common type of cerebral palsy. It accounts for 75 percent of all cases. Children with spastic cerebral palsy have increased muscle tone, delayed movement, stiff and spastic muscles and difficulty controlling muscle movement.
- Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy – this is the second most common type of cerebral palsy. Children with dyskinetic cerebral palsy experienced repetitive and twisting motions, poor posture and unpredictable movements.
- Mixed Cerebral Palsy – this is a mixture of two or three types of cerebral palsy. Spastic-dyskinetic cerebral palsy is the most common mixture.
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – children with ataxic cerebral palsy have tremors, shaky movements, and poor balance.
Long-Term Effects of Cerebral Palsy
A child with cerebral palsy may suffer from a variety of disabilities and long-term effects. Some of those include:
- Difficulty walking, sitting or standing
- Speech difficulties
- Learning disabilities
- Feeding disabilities
- Cognitive impairments
- Hearing loss
- Emotional or behavioral issues
- Spinal and Joint issues
Cerebral Palsy Treatment and Prognosis
Most children with cerebral palsy will live a long and full life. However, they may suffer from developmental delays and motor disabilities forever. Some severe cases of cerebral palsy can be life-threatening if not treated.
This is not a progressive disease. Rather, it is a disease caused by brain damage that occurred during pregnancy, labor or delivery. At this time, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. However, early diagnosis and therapies can result in improved outcomes and improved quality of life.
There are a variety of treatment options that parents can consider to help their child improve. This includes:
- Muscle relaxants
- Sleep aids
- Speech and Language
- Repair hip or joint dislocations
- Scoliosis surgeries
- Tendon or muscle release surgeries
Cerebral Palsy Caused by Medical Negligence
There are times when a baby suffers from brain damage because of medical negligence. Failure to properly monitor the mother and fetus during labor and delivery or failure to properly monitor the baby in the NICU can result in hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and ultimately a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. In Rhode Island, if a baby suffers harm because of a medical professional’s negligence, the family can seek compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This is especially important for families whose child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. This is a long-term disability that will affect a child’s entire life.
An experienced Rhode Island birth injury lawyer can help you choose the legal path that is best for your family after a serious and devastating birth injury. Medical malpractice lawsuits have two main goals: to take care of children with cerebral palsy by obtaining a settlement or verdict and to hold negligent healthcare providers and hospitals accountable. Medical malpractice lawsuits also encourage institutions to develop and implement better safety procedures
By filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you may be able to recover the money you will need to provide a lifetime of specialized care for your child.
Why Birth Injury Cases Require A Special Law Firm
Proving that a birth injury was caused by medical malpractice requires specific knowledge, experience and understanding of birth injuries and their consequences.
Accepting legal advice and representation from a law office that doesn’t have the necessary knowledge and experience or does not fully understand the intricacies of birth injury cases can harm your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.
Contact Our Providence Birth Injury Lawyers Today
If your baby suffered hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy during the labor and delivery process or has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, we can help. At Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd, our Providence birth injury attorneys know that the families of children who have suffered a birth injury often need help paying for medical expenses and necessary special care.
As veteran Rhode Island trial lawyers, our team has the knowledge and experience necessary to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the full and fair compensation to which you are entitled. Our goal is not just to help you get through today, but to make sure that you have what you need for the future as well.