Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a variety of motor conditions that affect physical coordination, movement and muscle tone of an individual resulting in a physical disability. This condition is usually caused by damage to the brain, particularly injury to the motor control portions of the brain while it is still developing. Cerebral palsy can develop during pregnancy and childbirth, as well as following birth up to age three. Cerebral palsy can occur spontaneously often with no obvious cause or it may be as a result of medical negligence thereby justifying a cerebral palsy compensation claim for damages.
Most cases of cerebral palsy occur naturally and are not the result of medical negligence however a not insignificant proportion of cases are caused by medical errors that could have been avoided. If you have any suspicion at all that your child’s condition may have been caused as a result of negligence by a health care practitioner, our cerebral palsy compensation claim solicitors are able to investigate the full clinical history and give full and detailed advice as to whether or not you have a viable case for a medical negligence compensation claim.
Legal aid is available to pursue a cerebral palsy compensation claim and almost all children (minors under the age of 18 years) will qualify, as it is the income of the victim and not the income of the parents that is taken into consideration in the financial assessment of means to determine eligibility for legal aid to pursue a cerebral palsy compensation claim.
Cerebral means “of the brain” and, in this case, more specifically relates to the cerebrum. The cerebrum is the area of the brain that is most affected by the disorder, along with the cerebellum and cortex. Palsy refers to a problem with movement.
Cerebral palsy causes an individual to have limitations with physical activity. The condition affects a variety of movement and posture capabilities. It may also affect communication, perception, behaviour, sensation, cognition and perception. CP is a non-progressive disability that is not contagious. It can lead to secondary musculo-skeletal issues or epilepsy.
Recent studies have estimated that nearly two out of every 1,000 children born will have some degree of cerebral palsy. There has been some advancement in neonatal care and technology; however, these improvements have not significantly reduced the incidences of CP. This is due to nurses and doctors making errors during and after the birthing process thereby justifying a cerebral palsy compensation claim for damages. Babies born with very low birth weights also have a much greater chance of developing CP. While none of the variations of cerebral palsy has a definitive cure, there are medical treatments, therapy and education methods that can help manage the effects.
Cerebral palsy is usually classified into one of four distinct categories. These categories describe different types of impairments and disabilities and are reflective of the area of the brain that has been damaged. The categories are as follows:
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most commonly occurring form of the condition and makes up between 70 and 80 percent of all cases. In addition to these cases, spastic CP is also associated with one of the other forms of CP in about 30 percent of all patients. Individuals who have this type of cerebral palsy are hypertonic and have damage to the corticospinal area of the brain, also known as the motor cortex. This results in a neuromuscular condition that prevents gamma amino butyric acid from reaching the areas of the body that are affected, thus resulting in nervous system disabilities. Spastic CP can be further classified by the following characteristics:
Spastic Hemiplegia: This means one side of the body is affected. If the muscle nerves located in the left side of the brain are injured, the right side of the body becomes disabled. The left side of the body is affected if the muscle nerves on the right side of the brain are damaged. Individuals affected with spastic hemiplegia are the most ambulatory of CP cases; however, they usually have ankle and foot deformities and may require orthotics to help with this issue.
Spastic Diplegia: This means the lower extremities of the body is affected, with little or no disability to the upper body. This is the most common category of spastic CP. Individuals affected with spastic diplegia are usually fully ambulatory; however, they have a “scissors gait”. A scissors gait is identifiable by varying degrees of flexed hips and knees. Some individuals may have problems with hip dislocations, and strabismus (crossed eyes). People with spastic diplegia function at normal cognitive levels.
Spastic Quadriplegia: This means all four limbs of the body are equally affected. These individuals are likely unable to walk and, if they try to walk, their muscles are usually too tight to do so properly. In some cases, children with spastic quadriplegia also experience hemiparetic tremors, which are characterized by uncontrollable shaking of the limbs of the body on one side.
Ataxic cerebral palsy symptoms are a direct result of damage that occurs in the cerebellum. This form of CP is not very common and makes up about ten percent of all cases. Individuals suffering with ataxic CP usually experience tremors and hypotonia. This greatly affects general motor skills needed for writing, using dinnerware, typing, walking and general balance. People with this form of the condition also have problems with auditory processing and vision.
Athetoid or Dyskinetic cerebral palsy simply means individuals experience mixed muscle tone. It is believed untreated high levels of bilirubin in the blood of newborns leads to brain damage that causes athetoid or dyskinetic cerebral palsy. About twenty-five percent of all people with CP have this form of the condition. Mixed muscle tone results in the person experiencing difficulty standing, holding himself or herself in an upright position, walking and sitting. People who suffer with athetoid or dyskinetic CP often have involuntary movements, and expend a great deal of energy and concentration to perform simple tasks such as moving a hand to a certain location (such as to grasp a fork or to scratch an itch). Due to the fact their muscle tone is mixed, they are often not able to hold on to objects.
Individuals suffering with hypotonic cerebral palsy are often limp and have extremely limited movement, or no movement whatsoever.
If you would like free legal advice about cerebral palsy compensation claims without further obligation just use the helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices and a specialist medical negligence solicitor will speak to you to asses the viability of a potential compensation claim. We make no charge for our advice without further obligation