Cerebral Palsy: Frequently Asked Questions

It is estimated that three children out of 1,000 have cerebral palsy. It is one of the most common of all childhood disabilities. For some children, cerebral palsy is unavoidable–caused by infection, injury, or illness in utero or during birth. However, for other children, cerebral palsy is entirely preventable. Sadly, the negligent actions of one medical provider or other caretaker during birth can change the life of a family forever, causing permanent injury to a baby. 

This is where our team can help. With decades of experience, our Oklahoma City-based team of birth injury attorneys support families as they seek answers and justice for the harm they have endured because of cerebral palsy caused by medical malpractice.

With our years of experience in medical malpractice and birth injury practice, we are a proven  resource and guide to our clients through all types of challenging situations. Today, we’re sharing some of the most common questions we’ve heard over the years about cerebral palsy and cerebral palsy medical malpractice. 

General Questions About CP

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of neurological disorders that affect movement, muscle tone, and motor skills. The disorders are caused by damage to the developing brain, usually before birth, during childbirth, or in the first month of life. The term “cerebral” refers to the brain’s cerebrum, which is the part of the brain that regulates motor function. CP is commonly used to describe this group of permanent neurological disorders that have a lifelong impact on those affected and their families.  

What Causes Cerebral Palsy? 

There are many different ways a baby’s brain can be injured and cause damage to the cerebral cortex during the early stages of development. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development divides causes into two groups: congenital cerebral palsy and acquired cerebral palsy. 

Congenital CP causes occur before the baby’s birth, and causes are typically damage to the white matter of the brain (the part of the brain that sends signals to the rest of the body), disruptions in brain development, bleeding in the brain, and lack of oxygen to the brain. 

Acquired CP causes occur during or after birth; these causes include brain damage in the first month of life, meningitis or other infections, problems that limit blood flow to the brain, or head injury from a fall, trauma, or accident. Often, acquired cerebral palsy can result from trauma during labor and delivery. The likelihood of a brain injury causing cerebral palsy diminishes significantly after the first month of a child’s life. 

Questions About Cerebral Palsy Cases 

What is Cerebral Palsy Medical Malpractice? 

There are many types of birth injuries, and birth injuries happen daily. There are also many causes of CP; some are preventable, and some are not. So, how do you know if your child’s CP diagnosis results from medical malpractice or an unfortunate and unavoidable circumstance?

The first step in knowing if your child’s birth injury is malpractice is determining a breach of the standard of care. Healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, medical assistants, etc., are all expected to perform their jobs in a way that aligns with the standard of care. This means that given the same circumstances, another similarly skilled provider would have provided the same level of care. If your provider did not provide care that meets the standard of care, it may constitute medical negligence. 

Common examples of CP malpractice include: 

  • failure to detect signs of fetal distress
  • delayed C-sections when necessary 
  • medication errors 
  • mismanagement of oxygen levels during birth
  • improper use of forceps 
  • improper use of vacuum extraction

A provider’s negligence could result in medical mistakes that cause irreversible injury, like cerebral palsy. If a provider’s error injured your child and resulted in CP, you should contact our team so we can look into your case

What is a Case Evaluation, and What Should I Expect? 

The team at Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst provides free case evaluations. Trust your intuition and contact us. If you believe your child’s CP is the result of the negligence of a healthcare provider, we are here to be a trusted expert and resource. 

When you schedule a case evaluation with our team, a proven, knowledgeable birth injury lawyer will meet with you to learn more about the injury and damages you have experienced. We will take the time to evaluate your potential cerebral palsy birth injury case and will know how to guide you through the legal process if needed. Contact our team for a free case evaluation today. 

Will a Cerebral Palsy Case Help My Child and Family? 

If the negligence of a healthcare provider caused your child’s CP, the Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst team will advocate for your child and family to pursue justice for the wrongdoing done to you. Our team often reviews medical records and consults with various medical experts, related to labor and delivery and ongoing medical services required, like speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy, and more. As we review records, listen to the family, and work with experts, we build a case that could make a major impact on the well-being of our clients’ families. We know CP requires complex care and resources, and we advocate for our clients to receive the support they need. 

Over the years, we have also seen parents, grandparents, and friends become heroes for families and their children after a CP diagnosis. As we advocate for our clients, we are often inspired because of the way families and friends step up, learn, and provide care after a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Handling the trach, vent, g tube, wheelchairs and so much more requires care and attention, and seeing all the people caring for these sweet children spur us on and hearten our team of attorneys as we seek justice. 

About Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis and Outcomes 

What Are the Different Types of Cerebral Palsy? 

The different types of cerebral palsy are classified according to their movement characteristics. These movement characteristics are the primary symptoms related to CP diagnosis; however, many related health issues are associated, such as seizures, developmental disabilities, or sensory challenges. 

  1. Spastic Cerebral Palsy – This is the most common type, characterized by muscle stiffness and difficulty in movement. Movements may appear stiff and jerky. Several subtypes denote specific stiffness and symptoms in regions of the body, including spastic diplegia, spastic hemiplegia, and spastic quadriplegia. 
  2. Dyskinetic (Athetoid or Dystonic) Cerebral Palsy – This type Involves involuntary and uncontrolled movements, making it challenging to maintain a steady posture. These movements can be slow and writhing or rapid and jerky. 
  3. Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – This type affects balance and coordination, causing shaky or unsteady movements. Individuals may experience difficulties with precision tasks and fine motor skills. 
  4. Mixed Cerebral Palsy – As the name suggests, this involves a combination of features from more than one type of cerebral palsy. For example, a person might have both spastic and athetoid features. 

How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed? 

Cerebral palsy requires a clinical diagnosis; ideally, the earlier the diagnosis, the better. No single test can definitively confirm CP, so providers typically thoroughly assess the child’s development, movement patterns, physical movement and muscle tone, and medical history. Additionally, they may gather prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal information and have imaging studies performed (such as an MRI or CT Scan). 

Early intervention is crucial, and if cerebral palsy is suspected, healthcare professionals (which most likely will be numerous different specialists) will work with your family to create a comprehensive care plan tailored to your child’s specific needs. If you suspect that your child’s CP diagnosis might be caused by medical negligence, please contact us for a free consultation.

Does Cerebral Palsy Get Worse Over Time? 

Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder, meaning that the brain injury or abnormal development leading to CP does not worsen over time. Once the brain is injured, the condition does not progress like some degenerative disorders. However, the impact of CP on an individual’s life can change over time due to factors such as growth, development, and aging. 

Over time, individuals with CP may experience functional changes as they grow and develop, or they may develop secondary conditions because of the effects of CP on their bodies. Every person with CP is unique, and the path of their condition can vary.  Our team of Oklahoma City cerebral palsy malpractice lawyers can help identify some of the future challenges you may face. 

Finding Help for Cerebral Palsy Malpractice in Oklahoma 

As you face the challenges presented by CP, remember that seeking justice and compensation is a way your family protects your child’s rights and contributes to raising awareness and preventing future cases of cerebral palsy malpractice. 
With the help of dedicated attorneys and support networks, families can navigate the legal complexities and empower themselves to ensure a safer and more compassionate environment for all children. Contact our team at Maples, Nix & Diesselhorst for a free case evaluation if your child sustained injuries resulting in cerebral palsy due to childbirth malpractice.  We stand with you.

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