For many of many of us, playing sports or doing any type of intense exercise is an escape from daily stress and a source of a lot of fun after a busy day. For Lucas Vialpando, wrestling has become a way of life and it helps him forget about his problems and disabilities. Lucas suffered a birth injury during delivery and almost died twice within the first day of his life. His brain had been deprived of oxygen because of a complication that occurred during delivery. Shortly thereafter, Lucas was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Lucas says that growing up was hard because he would watch other kids do things he couldn’t do. He remembers thinking that he wanted to do this and he wanted to do that. After watching his older brother win numerous wrestling matches, including a state championship, Lucas decided that he, too, was going to be a wrestling star. Initially, his father kept telling him no. But when he saw Lucas wrestle for the first time in seventh grade, he cried. His dad then became his biggest supporter, telling Lucas that whether the referee says he won or lost the match, each match is a win in and of itself.
When Lucas gets off the bench to go to the wrestling mat, he can barely walk. To help with his spasticity, he uses 2 walking sticks attached to his arms (forearm crutches), and his legs don’t seem to go where he wants them to as he slowly places one foot in front of the other. Lucas’s starting position, however, is on his knees. Once he gets in this position, someone removes his crutches, and Lucas becomes a tough wrestler just like any other kid. Lucas’s intense practicing, amazing father, and incredible coaches have given him the confidence he needs. Even when an opponent stands up, Lucas has moves that can help take him down. He expertly isolates his opponent’s arm or grabs a wrist and just keeps going.
Lucas says that it is not discouraging when he loses because he knows he has won the hearts of a lot of people. Lucas often receives standing ovations, and he wrestles some of the toughest athletes in the country. One of the best wrestlers in the nation shook Lucas’s hand and told him he was a hell of a wrestler. Lucas tells people that when they wrestle him for 6 minutes they will have one incredible fight. Indeed, Lucas recently won the “outstanding wrestler” award.
Lucas wants to wrestle in college and his dream is to travel the world as a competitive wrestler. Lucas is also fighting to help keep the sport in the Olympics. Another goal Lucas has is to coach other wrestlers, especially those with special needs and childhood problems.
Lucas has had a lot of adversity since he started wrestling. His mother left the family, and for a long time, Lucas had no idea where she was. Now the family is comprised of his brother and father, both of whom are wrestlers and are very supportive. Not everyone shows Lucas support. There are some wrestlers who take one look at Lucas and refuse to wrestle him. Other people tell him he can’t go very far with wrestling. But Lucas says these people just give him more motivation to train hard and do well.
Indeed, Lucas is an inspiration. He spends endless hours doing drills with partners, and when his fellow wrestlers run sprints, Lucas does drills on his knees. This high school student who cannot stand without crutches competes at some of the largest and most prestigious wrestling tournaments in n the nation and is proving many people wrong.
CEREBRAL PALSY AND ITS CAUSES
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that can leave a child struggling with movement. It is caused by an injury to the developing brain, and it can affect one, two, three or all of a child’s limbs. It can also affect oral-facial muscles, which can cause a child to drool and have problems eating and speaking. Cerebral palsy is a motor problem and does not affect a child’s intellectual ability, although in some children, the brain injury that caused the cerebral palsy also damaged an area that controls or partially controls cognitive function.
There are many conditions that can occur during or near the time of delivery that can cause injury to the baby’s brain and resultant cerebral palsy. Often, injury is caused by oxygen deprivation. This type of injury is called hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or neonatal encephalopathy (NE). Conditions that can cause HIE and NE if improperly managed include the following:
- Placental abruption
- Placenta previa
- Umbilical cord problems, such as a nuchal cord (cord wrapped around baby’s neck) or umbilical cord prolapse
- Failure to quickly deliver a baby when fetal distress is evident on the fetal heart rate monitor (delayed emergency C-section)
- Oligohydramnios (low amniotic fluid)
- Anesthesia mistakes, which can cause blood pressure problems in the mother, including a hypotensive crisis
- Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) / premature birth
- Prolonged and arrested labor
- Ruptured uterus (womb)
- Fetal stroke
- Preeclampsia / eclampsia
- Intracranial hemorrhages (brain bleeds), which can be caused by a traumatic delivery. Forceps and vacuum extractors can cause brain bleeds. Sometimes intense contractions (hyperstimulation) caused by labor induction drugs (Pitocin and Cytotec) can cause head trauma. Mismanagement of cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD), abnormal presentations (face or breech presentation), and shoulder dystocia also put a child at risk of having a brain bleed.
- Hyperstimulation caused by Pitocin and Cytotec can also cause oxygen deprivation that gets progressively worse.
There are many other injuries that can damage a baby’s brain and cause cerebral palsy. These include:
- Improperly treated neonatal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
- Improperly treated high bilirubin levels (jaundice) that cause a form of brain damage called kernicterus.
- Brain infection such as meningitis, which can be caused by infections in the mother that travel to the baby at birth. These maternal infections include the following: Group B Strep (GBS), herpes simplex virus (HSV), urinary tract infection (UTI), bacterial vaginosis (BV) and chorioamnionitis.
CEREBRAL PALSY TREATMENT AND THERAPY
One factor that can greatly improve the outcome in children with cerebral palsy is early diagnosis and treatment. The earlier a child starts a multi-dimensional, intense therapy program, the better. There are numerous treatments and therapies that can help improve the symptoms of cerebral palsy, and many children are beginning to take their first unaided steps due to intense physical therapy and a new surgical procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). Playing sports and attending special camps also has been shown to be extremely physically and psychologically beneficial, and there are numerous sports programs and camps throughout the country created for children with specific disabilities, including cerebral palsy.
HELP FOR CHILDREN WHO HAVE CEREBRAL PALSY
The attorneys at Reiter & Walsh ABC Law Centers have been helping children with cerebral palsy 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 he 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, Texas, 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.