Miami Cerebral Palsy Attorneys
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that happens before, during or shortly after birth. It’s caused by injuries to the baby’s developing brain. The damage caused by the injuries affects the child’s motor development and muscle control, coordination, muscle tone, posture, balance, and gross and fine motor skills. It can also affect the child’s speech and ability to chew food and drink.
There are many possible causes for cerebral palsy. Congenital cerebral palsy can occur while a baby is still developing in the mother’s body (intrauterine), during birth or throughout the child’s life. If cerebral palsy happens before the baby is born, then it is due to either genetic abnormalities than affect brain growth and development, infections or injuries that keep the nervous system from developing correctly. However, a baby can be born without cerebral palsy and develop it once it leaves the womb as well.
Another common cause of cerebral palsy is oxygen starvation to the infant’s brain. It can happen when the baby’s oxygen is cut off during birth or after it’s born. This can also happen when the baby’s airway is blocked after it’s born or when there’s damage to or problems with the umbilical cord, placenta or uterus, resulting in the baby’s oxygen supply being cut off, which can kill cells in certain parts of the brain.
It’s also possible for a baby to develop cerebral palsy (acquired) after birth through infection, injury, accident or other problems that may impair blood flow to the brain. Babies who are most vulnerable to acquired cerebral palsy may have other illnesses or disorders or may have been subject to environmental factors that can cause brain damage and/or cut off the oxygen supply, such as child abuse or medical malpractice.
Signs Of Cerebral Palsy
Signs of cerebral palsy aren’t usually recognized as signs of the disorder in infants until they’re anywhere between 2 and 5 years old. The first vague signs that something is wrong are developmental delays in infants, as babies otherwise generally roll over, sit up, crawl, pull themselves up and walk at roughly the same ages. Infants may show low muscle tone and may appear “floppy” when picked up, as if they’re rag dolls. However, there are clinical signs of cerebral palsy that parents and doctors do look for:
- Poor muscle tone or tension: Muscle tone is either too tight or too flaccid or goes back and forth between too tight and too flaccid.
- Muscle spasms: Smaller infants tend to move their arms and legs a lot when they’re young. Older children, however, should not have involuntary movement of the limbs or body parts.
- Coordination problems: These are indicated when the child has trouble making intentional movements.
- Gait problems: These involve difficulty walking normally or the inability to walk at all.
- Reflex problems: These are abnormal or absent reflexes or atypical reflexive movements. For example, babies should reflexively grasp anything that touches their palms, but children with cerebral palsy may not exhibit this reflex.
- Balance problems: These involve difficulty standing and sitting up.
- Posture problems: This is the inability to stand up straight.
- Motor function problems: These involve difficulty when making common movements typically appropriate for children of the same age.
Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
While all children develop at their own pace, babies and toddlers who exhibit developmental delays may simply be slow or may be showing signs of an underlying problem. However, if a child exhibits symptoms of cerebral palsy, then it’s best to get them to the doctor for a diagnosis in order to help them develop normally.
Yet, cerebral palsy is difficult to diagnose in young infants precisely because the symptoms could be signs of other issues or a child simply developing more slowly than others. Doctors don’t have any single test to diagnose cerebral palsy, and many diagnoses depend on long-term observations of the child and the child’s development. Thus, it can take months or even years before there’s an official diagnosis.
Could Cerebral Palsy Be The Result Of Medical Malpractice?
Cerebral palsy due to injuries at birth or after birth could be due to medical malpractice. Any injury or harm to a small infant that cuts off the baby’s oxygen could cause the disorder. It’s also possible that a baby acquired the disorder during birth because of an issue that could have been avoided, such as birth asphyxia, when the umbilical cord wraps around a baby’s neck during birth. Usually, this common (up to one-third of births) occurrence doesn’t cause problems because the obstetrician or midwife notices and remedies the situation right away.
What Can Parents Do About Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder that impairs a child’s ability to live life to the fullest. It can also cost families time, energy and money taking care of a child with cerebral palsy. Children with the disorder need ongoing medical care and therapy. Those with very severe cerebral palsy may never be able to live on their own and may require constant care for the rest of their lives.
Parents of children who acquired cerebral palsy due to medical malpractice can seek money damages from the responsible party or parties. A lawyer specializing in cerebral palsy medical malpractice can advise the parents, determine if they have a case and, if they do, counsel on how to proceed getting compensation for their child’s injuries.
Cerebral palsy settlements in Florida include:
- A $5.3 million settlement for a Florida family of an infant who developed cerebral palsy after doctors failed to use a therapy that could have helped stop a birth injury from developing into cerebral palsy.
- A $19.2 million verdict in Lee County for the family of a premature baby who developed cerebral palsy, among other neurological disorders, due to a miscalculation that led to metabolic and cardiopulmonary complications.
- A $10 million verdict in Volusia County for the family of an infant against an ambulatory service that transported a mother in premature labor from one hospital to another, knowing the ambulance wasn’t equipped to handle a possible premature birth. The baby was born in the ambulance and suffered loss of oxygen, which led to the development of cerebral palsy.
Reach Out To An Attorney
It’s best to call a lawyer as soon as you have a diagnosis and some idea of the kind of care your child will require. You don’t have to have all the answers or know exactly when your child was injured. However, if you wait too long, then you may lose your chance to recover altogether. At Kaire & Heffernan, PLLC, we can give you a free case evaluation and determine if you should pursue justice for your child’s injuries. Call us at 305-376-7860 or contact us online.