Cerebral Palsy and Medical Malpractice
Cerebral palsy, like Erb’s palsy, may occur as a result of medical malpractice during the birthing process. Medical errors and mistakes during delivery of a child may lead to this condition.
Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a variety of medical conditions affecting a newborn’s or child’s muscle coordination and bodily movements. The condition is caused by damage to the area of the brain associated with muscle function and coordination. It is a permanent condition that usually occurs during birth, shortly after birth, or infancy.
When cerebral palsy occurs as a result of medical malpractice during the birthing process, it is usually a result of one or more of the following errors:
a child left in the birth canal for an extended period of time leading to a lack of oxygen to the brain
misdiagnosis of infant seizures and failure to treat them in a timely fashion
failure to detect a prolapsed cord during which the baby is deprived of oxygen because the umbilical cord has wrapped around the baby’s neck
failure to recognize and treat jaundice and meningitis
failure to recognize fetal distress and respond promptly to relieve that distress.
These are just a few of the potential causes of cerebral palsy during the delivery that can lead to permanent brain damage in a newborn.
Injury to the largest part of the brain (cerebrum) can lead to the loss of nerve functions in different areas. Many children with this condition have increased muscle tone (spasticity). Spasticity may affect:
One arm or leg
One side of the body (spastic hemiplegia)
Both legs (spastic diplegia)
Both arms and legs (spastic quadriplegia)
Symptoms are usually seen before age 2. In severe cases, they may appear as early as 3 months.
Symptoms may include:
Abnormal muscle tone
Difficulty sucking or feeding in infants
Limited range of motion
Partial or full loss of movement (paralysis)
Problems swallowing (at all ages)
Speech problems (dysarthria)
Vomiting or constipation
Presently, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. The goal of treatment is to help the person be as independent as possible.
Treatment requires a team approach, including:
A primary care doctor
A social worker
Occupational, physical, and speech therapists
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