A child’s cerebral palsy diagnosis can be confusing and stressful for parents. They may have questions about what the future holds for their disabled child and how they will be able to afford the necessary, lifelong support for their loved one.
What is cerebral palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a motor disorder that impacts one’s coordination, balance, fine motor control, and gross motor control. While cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects people physically, it is common for it to be accompanied by cognitive, intellectual, behavioral, or emotional disabilities.
Signs of Cerebral Palsy
Sometimes a baby exhibits signs and symptoms of brain damage at birth. Other times, brain damage doesn’t become apparent until much later when the child fails to meet growth and developmental milestones. A few common signs that there may have been a brain injury and damage include:
- Seizures, at birth and/or during childhood
- Failure to thrive
- Decreased muscle tone (hypotonia)
- Delayed crawling, walking and developmental milestones
- Poor head control
- Developmental disabilities
- Increased or decreased head size
- Poor trunk control
- Psychomotor cognitive impairment
- Roving eye movements
- Low APGAR score
Common Causes of CP
Medical errors during pregnancy, labor, and delivery can result in conditions or injuries that lead to disabilities such as cerebral palsy. Some of these common complications include:
- Water that breaks too early (Premature rupture of membranes, or PROM)
- Yellow eyes or skin at birth (Jaundice)
- Issues with the umbilical cord
- Uterine rupture or placental abruption
- Hydrocephalus (known as “fluid in the brain”)
- Periventricular leukomalacia, or PVL (damage to the brain’s white matter)
- Birth asphyxia (also known as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, or HIE)
Can CP be prevented?
Cerebral palsy is often preventable. Preventing medical errors is a systemic endeavor and involves many moving parts, including clear communication between medical staff, proper training, and the development of accountable medical systems. In order to do so, doctors, nurses, midwives and other members of the medical care team are required to meet a certain standard of care in order to prevent injury or harm to an expectant mother and her baby.
Medical personnel are responsible for:
- Providing proper prenatal care and recognizing risk factors for birth injury/cerebral palsy
- Taking actions to prevent birth injury or cerebral palsy (special caution must be taken if risk factors are present)
When medical professionals deviate from those standards, it increases the risk that a child will be injured. Especially with birth injuries, deviations from the standards of care can cause permanent and often severe problems which can impact a child’s health throughout their lifespan.
Can legal help pay for my child’s cerebral palsy care?
Children with cerebral palsy require additional or supportive care for their condition, including different types of therapy and adaptive equipment. A birth injury lawsuit can not only obtain justice on behalf of your child, but can secure care for the rest of their life so you do not have to worry about their future. If you’re concerned that a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional made a mistake that led to your child’s injury and subsequent disability, the first step in securing justice and care for your child is reaching out to a birth injury attorney. A well-trained birth injury attorney can identify deviations from the standard of care and potential instances of medical malpractice.
There is a time limit for when a person can file a lawsuit for medical malpractice, and the rules regarding these timelines differ by location or hospital type, and even differ for an adult vs. a child. In Washington, D.C., the statute of limitations (amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit) is 3 years from the date of the injury to file a parental claim regarding a birth injury case. Claims filed on behalf of the injured child must be made by their 21st birthday.
Talking to an attorney is the best way to determine if and/or when you can seek legal help for your child’s injuries. Birth injury cases can take years, and sometimes, it’s not obvious that a child has suffered a birth injury right away or until they get their cerebral palsy diagnosis. It’s important to speak with an attorney as soon as you suspect malpractice.
ABC Law Centers has handled birth injury cases for over 25 years.
If you think medical negligence may have resulted in your child’s cerebral palsy, an attorney can help uncover answers to your questions. Tell us your story and secure a stable future for your child.
CP Resources in Washington, D.C.
Cerebral palsy resources available in each state can vary significantly, depending on geographic location, funding availability, the specific disability the child has, and how different programs are administered. One way to find services for CP and associated disabilities is to seek out larger national disability-related organizations or non-profit service providers that have national presences and find out if they have state or local branches in your area such as the Arc of District of Columbia. We’ve provided a short list to get you started:
About ABC Law Centers
Attorneys at ABC Law Centers (Reiter & Walsh, P.C.) handle solely birth injury cases. We have first-hand experience working in Washington, D.C. on birth injury cases involving cerebral palsy. Our unique focus means that we have a thorough knowledge of the complex medical aspects of birth trauma cases. Our firm has a network of renowned medical, economic and forensics experts at our side, and our attorneys have been consistently recognized for their work in birth injury. We do not charge any fees for the entire legal process unless we win.