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Cerebral Palsy Lawyer in St. Louis

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Statistics show 2 out of every 1,000 babies born in the US has some type of cerebral palsy. Approximately 5,000 children and 1,200 to 1,500 preschoolers are diagnosed with cerebral palsy annually. Cerebral palsy refers to a grouping of conditions that are caused by damage to areas of the brain. This brain damage probably occurred before, during or shortly following birth, and results in conditions that affect muscle coordination and body movements.

Cerebral palsy is not a disease; it is not contagious and is not progressive, meaning it doesn't get worse. However, a child with cerebral palsy will have this condition for the rest of his life. Many children suffering from cerebral palsy have normal or above average intelligence. However, they may be hampered because of their inability to effectively communicate. With medical attention, physical, speech and occupational therapies, children with cerebral palsy can function at a higher level, despite their disability.

Do you believe your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical malpractice? Our birth injury attorneys can examine your case and let you know if you have the right to take action. Find out more by meeting with our firm in a complimentary consultation. Call our office for more information!

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Children with cerebral palsy all suffer damage to the part of the brain that controls muscle tone. The type and extent of damage, however, will differ from person to person. Cerebral palsy will cause reduced muscle tone, or increased muscle tone, or even a combination of the two.

The three main types of birth injuries with cerebral palsy are:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy
    Stiff, jerky, difficult movement. In this category, there is the diplegia (2 limbs are affected), hemiplegia (one side of the body is affected), and the quadriplegia (all four limbs are affected. Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type, affecting 70-80% of children with cerebral palsy.
  • Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
    Uncontrollable involuntary movement. This inability to control can affect any part of the body, including the face, mouth and tongue. This accounts for 10-20% of cerebral palsy cases.
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
    Inability to balance properly and a lack of depth perception. A person with this condition will have a very unsteady gait, and will struggle with activity that requires significant control, like writing. This accounts for 5-10% of cerebral palsy cases.
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy
    A combination of the spastic and athetoid.

Risk Factors Linked with Cerebral Palsy

At one time, oxygen deprivation used to be blamed for cerebral palsy. However, research has identified that cerebral palsy is caused from damage to the brain, normally occurring during pregnancy, during delivery, or shortly after delivery. Some risk factors that have shown a link to cerebral palsy include:

  • The birth mother suffers an infection, seizure or thyroid disorder
  • Birth defects including those of the brain, spinal cord, head, face or lungs
  • Rh factor incompatibility: the blood of the mother and baby are incompatible (this situation is normally detected and treated early in the pregnancy with proper prenatal care)
  • Hereditary and genetic conditions
  • Labor and delivery complications
  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight (2 pounds or less)
  • Severe jaundice following birth
  • Brain damage due to an meningitis, a head injury, or lack of oxygen
  • Multiple births (twins, triplets or more)
  • Smoking or cocaine use by the mother

What Are Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?

Below are some early indicators as the baby's nervous system matures:

  • Delayed Development - The baby does not reach the normal milestones for controlling the head, rolling over, sitting, crawling or walking
  • Persistence of the startle reflex that normally disappears after 3-6 months
  • The baby shows a marked favoring of either the right or left limb. This may be an indicator of abnormal muscle tone on one side, an early warning sign for cerebral palsy

Other symptoms as the baby grows older:

  • Abnormal Muscle Tone- Either stiff, or unusually relaxed or floppy. Legs may cross at the knees when walking, in a "scissoring" motion.
  • Abnormal Movement- Either jerky, abrupt, or slow. Movements are uncontrolled.
  • Deformities- Children with spastic hemiplegia (affecting one side of the body) may have limbs that appear shorter on the affected side. Without surgical intervention, this could lead to scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and the pelvic bones being tilted.
  • Stiffening Joints- With the abnormal muscle tones, the joints may stiffen because of the unequal pressures being applied to the joints by the muscles.
  • Retardation- Not all children with cerebral palsy suffer from mental retardation. However, the more severe the retardation, the more severe the cerebral palsy disability.
  • Seizures- About 1/3 of cerebral palsy patients suffer from seizures. These seizures can occur at any time.
  • Speech Impediments- Because speech is controlled and affected by muscles of the tongue, mouth and throat, some patients with cerebral palsy have difficulty speaking normally.
  • Difficulty Swallowing- The lack of ability to properly control the muscles that control eating, sucking and drinking can make these actions very difficult. They may be unable to prevent themselves from drooling. A more dangerous complication from this difficulty is aspiration, where food or fluids are accidentally inhaled into the lungs. This can cause infections or even suffocations.
  • Hearing Loss- It's possible for children with cerebral palsy to have partial hearing loss. This may result in delayed speech development.
  • Vision Problems- Due to a weakness of the eye muscles, ¾ of children with cerebral palsy will have strabismus, where one eye is turned in or out. Individuals with strabismus will also be near sighted. If this situation is not addressed, it could lead to further vision problems in the future.
  • Dental Issues- Due to defects in the tooth enamel and difficulties the child may have with brushing his or her teeth, people with cerebral palsy will suffer from more cavities than usual.
  • Bladder and/or Bowel Problems- This is caused by lack of muscle control.

Fight Back With A St. Louis Malpractice Lawyer

Some instances of cerebral palsy are caused by genetic reasons, but far too many children are severely harmed when a doctor does not abide by the standards of care that are expected of them. When your loved one has been hurt, you deserve to fight back. With a medical malpractice attorney on your side, we can help you examine the details of the birth and where the injury may have occurred. Moving forward, we can connect you with medical experts that will be able to determine how the doctor acted negligently and act within Missouri law to ensure that you are fairly compensated for their mistakes

Get the help you need. Contact the medical malpractice team at Millikan Wright, LLC and fight back now.

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