A teenager with cerebral palsy was reunited with her sister and best friend after spending almost 2 months apart. India Brainard is 15 years old and she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly after birth. The condition left her partially paralyzed and in a lot of pain, so her parents decided to fly her from New Mexico all the way to Boston to have major surgeries: a double hip transplant and surgery on one leg. India was very excited for the operations, but knew she would miss her partner in crime, 13 year old Marion. Recovery from the surgery was supposed to take only 3 weeks. As healing took longer and longer, the sisters increasingly missed each other. They had never spent much time apart, and were used to laughing together and playing tricks on everyone in the household. They skyped while apart, but it just wasn’t the same.
On day 57 post-surgery, when India finally saw Marion running down the hall towards her, she got tears in her eyes, and kept calling “Sissy, sissy, sissy.” The two girls embraced and cuddled in India’s bed. India felt so much better having her sister with her during her difficult recovery. Marion is the one who always helps India stretch and do physical therapy at home. And when kids tease India in school, Marion is quick to jump in and defend her.
The girls love to listen to music together, talk about their boyfriends and make each other laugh. India’s mother admits that India’s recovery is going slowly, but she says that India is smiling and that is a very important part of recovery.
Physicians told India’s parents that the reason her recovery is going slowly is because she is not gaining enough weight and growing the way she should. They are working to develop a plan to help her take in enough nutrition and calories so that she can heal faster.
Hip And Leg Problems In Children With Cerebral Palsy
Hip dysplasia and dislocation are very common in children who have cerebral palsy. Dysplaysia means abnormal development, and this can be very painful. The hip joint is normal at birth, but the spasticity (constantly stiff muscles) causes a muscle imbalance, and a lack of weight bearing leads to progressive structural changes around the hip joint. This causes deformities, which contribute to dysplasia and dislocation. Hip dislocation can cause many problems, including difficulty with toileting and hygiene, as well as problems with balance and sitting.
In addition to hip transplants, leg surgery is also a common treatment for children who have problems caused by spasticity, especially when the spasticity and stiffness are severe enough to make walking and moving around difficult and painful. The surgery typically involves lengthening muscles and tendons that are too short in proportion to other muscles. The surgeries are usually timed to coincide with a specific stage of the child’s motor development.
Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) is a surgical procedure used to treat severe spasticity. During SDR, physicians locate the over-activated nerves at the base of the spinal cord and sever them. Eliminating these abnormal nerves reduces spasticity in the legs.
Children with cerebral palsy often have a difficult time getting adequate nutrition. This is because the condition frequently affects oral-facial muscles and an esophageal muscle. When the mouth and face muscles are affected, children can have a difficult time keeping food and liquids in their mouths and swallowing. Food often runs out of the sides of the mouth. Problems with the esophageal muscle can cause reflux, which can be very uncomfortable for children and can increase the risk of choking. In addition, when children don’t get adequate nutrition, they are more susceptible to infection, which can further slow down the healing process after surgery.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type, affecting 70-90% of all children who have cerebral palsy. In spastic cerebral palsy, the muscles do not coordinate in pairs the way they are supposed to. Instead of opposing muscles working together to create smooth movement, muscle groups become active at the same time, which prevents coordinated movement. The muscles in children with spastic cerebral palsy are constantly tight, and the child has stiff, jerky movements.
The major difference between spastic diplegia (spastic cerebral palsy that primarily affects the lower body) and a normal walking pattern is the “scissor gait,” which is when a child’s knees appear to cross like scissors.
There are many conditions that can occur during or near the time of delivery that, if not properly managed, can cause cerebral palsy. Most often, these conditions involve oxygen deprivation in the baby. Mismanaged conditions that can deprive a baby of oxygen include placental abruption, uterine rupture, umbilical cord prolapse, nuchal cord (cord wrapped around baby’s neck), brain bleeds caused by forceps or vacuum extractor use, and failure to recognize fetal distress on the fetal heart rate monitor. Improperly treated neonatal hypoglycemia or jaundice (abnormally high bilirubin), or in infection in the mother that travels to the baby at birth can also cause cerebral palsy. When a baby is showing signs of distress, it means she is being deprived of oxygen and must be delivered very quickly. Most of the time, a C-section delivery is the safest way to deliver a baby who is in distress.
Help For Children With Cerebral Palsy
The attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have been helping children with cerebral palsy throughout the nation for over two decades. Jesse Reiter, the firm’s co-founder, has been focusing on birth injury cases his entire 25+ year career, and most of Jesse’s cases involve helping children who have cerebral palsy. When Jesse takes a case, he spends a lot of time getting to know the child and family he is helping so that he can fully understand the child’s needs. Jesse has won many awards for his advocacy of children, and he is currently recognized as being one of the best medical malpractice lawyers in America by U.S. News and World Report 2014, as well as one of the 10 Best Attorneys in Michigan by Super Lawyers magazine. Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers is also recognized as being one of the best law firms in the country by U.S. News and World Report 2014.
Cerebral palsy is a difficult area of law to pursue due to the complex nature of the disorder and the medical records that support it. The nationally recognized attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have decades of experience with cerebral palsy cases. To find out if you have a case, contact our firm to speak with an experienced attorney. We handle cases in Michigan, Ohio, Washington, D.C. and throughout the nation. We have numerous multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements that attest to our success, and no fees are ever paid to our firm until we win your case. Email or call us at 888-419-2229.