How Brain Injuries at Birth Cause Cerebral Palsy

During a baby’s development in the womb, even the slightest amount of damage can cause cerebral palsy and other serious disabilities. The human brain is extremely delicate. A small injury can cause a brain bleed that results in death or severe cerebral palsy. Babies can suffer serious brain injuries before, during, and after birth. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, a traumatic brain injury is an “alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force.”

How Does Brain Damage Occur?

Brain damage can happen in a variety of ways. For example, when a pregnant woman is in a car accident, the force can cause the fetus to sustain a brain injury. In addition to external blows to the head and body, problems that happen before, during, and after birth can cause the following brain damage:

  • Prenatal disturbance of brain cell migration: Environmental factors, infections, and hereditary conditions, can all disrupt brain cell migration and damage brain tissue.
  • Inadequate myelin: Inadequate myelin can cause brain damage and nerve disorders. Myelin is a compound that protects brain cells.
  • Brain cell death: Brain cells can die before, during, and after birth, causing brain damage. There are many causes of cell death, including oxygen deprivation and infection.
  • Damaged brain cell synapses: The synapses in the brain allow brain cells to communicate with each other. If these synapses become damaged or they become severed from one another, a brain injury can happen.
  • Brain lesions: These are defects within the brain caused by an infection, trauma, or asphyxiation. Brain lesions can cause brain tissue to become diseased or for holes to form. When a hole forms in the motor complex, a child might suffer cerebral palsy.
  • Brain malformations and defects: When the brain becomes damaged, or is naturally malformed, a child can have cerebral palsy. Hereditary issues and infections in the womb can also cause serious brain defects. Sometimes brain malformations and defects cause serious issues. In other cases, the children will never know that they suffered brain damage.
Understanding How a Brain Injury Happened to Your Child

In some cases, determining the cause of cerebral palsy is impossible. When parents receive the diagnosis, they often experience a wide range of emotions. Parents want to know what caused the injury or brain damage to occur. Doctors will often seek to find the cause of the brain damage that resulted in cerebral palsy. When doctors understand the cause of cerebral palsy, they can better treat the current symptoms of cerebral palsy.

Finding the Cause of Your Child’s Cerebral Palsy

Doctors will often use magnetic resonance imaging, or an MRI, and computerized tomography. An MRI will allow radiologists to view your child’s brain and see any damage that might have occurred. MRI machines produce a three-dimensional image of your child’s brain. Physicians are then able to see any white spots or abnormalities that offer clues as to what happened and when your child’s brain injury happened. Doctors might also use CT scans which create x-rays from a variety of angles that allow doctors to see a cross-section of the brain. Doctors also use observational tests and blood tests to try an understand the cause of cerebral palsy. These observational tests take time.

Occupational and physical therapists can evaluate your child to find the exact areas in which he or she needs help. They will give you therapies you can do at home with your child to help improve their motor functions. They will also help you better understand how cerebral palsy affects your child’s body.

Co-Occurring Medical Conditions Related to Cerebral Palsy

Many times, a child who receives a cerebral palsy diagnosis will receive another co-occurring diagnosis, such as:

  • Erb’s palsy: Children diagnosed with Erb’s palsy commonly have difficulty controlling their arms, hands, and shoulders.
  • Shoulder dystocia: This condition happens when the baby’s shoulders become stuck in the mother’s birth pelvis during labor and birth.
  • Brachial Plexus Palsy: This medical condition happens when a baby suffers damage to his or her brachial plexus nerves, which controls the muscles of the arm.
  • Klumpke’s palsy: This is a form of brachial plexus palsy that affects the lower arm, wrist, and hand.
Contact Our Charlotte Cerebral Palsy Lawyer

If your child experienced a brain injury due to the negligence of medical personnel, resulting in a subsequent cerebral palsy diagnosis, you may be entitled to compensation under North Carolina law. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, as soon as possible to schedule an initial consultation to review your legal options with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. Call us at 704.370.2828 or fill out our contact form online. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Union County.

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