Medical Errors can Cause Many Types of Cerebral Palsy, Leading to Claims, Lawsuits

As our society becomes more aware of the high cost of medical errors, persons affected by medical negligence, state legislatures, and health professionals are reevaluating the manner in which medical treatment is deployed. Some studies suggest that medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States.

Medical errors can affect the quality of a person's life even before a person is born, or during a person's childbirth. Cerebral palsy is a well-known, yet complex medical condition that can be caused by medical errors. The term cerebral palsy is a general term for a group of disorders that impact a person's balance, posture, and motion. Medical experts have identified four main types of cerebral palsy: Spastic, Athetoid, Ataxic, and Mixed.

Although Cerebral Palsy Results From Brain Damage, It Affects The Body

The brain controls muscle tone by sending signals from the brain to a person's limbs. When the brain becomes injured in an area that controls motor function, the injury will negatively affect a person's ability to develop muscle tone. When a child's muscles feel overly tight, the muscles themselves are not damaged. Instead, the brain is likely failing to send the correct signals to the muscles, rendering the muscles overly tight or loose.

Brain damage can also cause involuntary movement, spasticity, rigidity, and abnormal muscle tone. A condition known as hypotonia can occur when a person's muscle tone is lower than normal. Babies and children with hypotonia can appear floppy, and they may not be able to lift and hold up their heads. Children suffering from hypertonia may on the other hand develop tighter-than-normal muscles and may appear rigid and have difficulty moving.

Spastic cerebral palsy—also called pyramidal cerebral palsy—is the most common form of cerebral palsy, affecting over seventy (70) percent of cerebral palsy patients. People with spastic cerebral palsy cannot relax their muscles properly. As a result, it can be difficult for sufferers to move their limbs, and over time, their joints can become damaged.

Because the muscles of a person suffering from spastic cerebral palsy can become so tight, a sufferer may not be able to eat and speak properly or feed oneself. Many people with spastic cerebral palsy are not able to control their affected muscles. They may walk on their toes because their calf muscles are so tight, instead of walking flat on their feet.

Spastic cerebral palsy is so common that it has been subdivided into common subgroups, including:

  • Spastic hemiplegia, affecting the arm, leg, and hand on one side of a person's body;
  • Spastic diplegia, commonly involving both legs;
  • Spastic quadriplegia, the most severe form of cerebral palsy. Severe injury to the motor cortex of a sufferer's brain can cause spastic quadriplegia and can require the use of a wheelchair for a sufferer's simple mobility.

Athetoid cerebral palsy is less common than spastic cerebral palsy and is also referred to as extrapyramidal or dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Athetoid cerebral palsy causes a person's movements to appear jerky, as if the person is writhing. Athetoid cerebral palsy can affect a sufferer's arms, feet, hands, and legs. Infants who later receive an athetoid diagnosis often have poor head control and experience a condition known as head lag.

Athetoid cerebral palsy is usually caused by a lack of oxygen, or asphyxia, at birth. Metabolic genetic disorders and kernicterus can also cause athetoid cerebral palsy. In addition, neuropathological lesions found on the basal ganglia and thalamus can cause athetoid cerebral palsy.

Ataxic cerebral palsy can cause sufferers to experience tremors when they make voluntary movements. These tremors can make it difficult to perform tasks that necessitate fine motor skills, such as writing and buttoning clothes.

Persons suffering from ataxic cerebral palsy often walk unsteadily with their feet wide apart from each other. Persons who suffer from ataxic cerebral palsy have often sustained damage to the cerebellum, or the part of the brain that is essential for motor function. In most cases, children are not diagnosed as suffering from ataxic cerebral palsy until they are eighteen (18) months or older.

Mixed cerebral palsy features a combination of the conditions described above.

Contact Our Cerebral Palsy Lawyers For A Free Appointment Today

While medical science has determined that many varying forms of cerebral palsy may affect sufferers, professionals agree that injuries to a child brain before, during, and immediately after birth are the most common cause of cerebral palsy.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed as suffering from cerebral palsy, the injured person may be entitled to compensation. The professionals at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can help an injured person determine the best course of action when medical negligence is the suspected cause of an injury. Contact our personal injury professionals as soon as possible to schedule your free initial consultation.

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