March 1st marks the kickoff of National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, culminating in National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day on March 25th. This month, those affected by cerebral palsy, along with their families, will engage in an effort to spread awareness about the diagnosis, celebrate the achievements of those with cerebral palsy, connect related groups together and ensure that those with cerebral palsy are included in a broader movement of inclusive social change.
While the goals of National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month are diverse, it is important to remember the common factor underlying these goals: education. During this month, groups such as United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation seek to increase public understanding of several key areas of knowledge.
Goals of National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month
While there are numerous goals of this event, the birth injury team at Reiter & Walsh, P.C. will be focusing on three issues in particular:
- Disseminating information about what cerebral palsy is
- Raising awareness about the role of medical malpractice in cerebral palsy diagnoses
- Raising awareness of the need for cerebral palsy research
What is Cerebral Palsy?
A common misconception is that cerebral palsy is a disease – CP is a motor disability, but not a disease. According to the NICE Clinical Guidelines, cerebral palsy:
“…describes a group of permanent disorders of the development of movement and posture, causing activity limitation that are attributed to nonprogressive disturbances that occurred in the developing fetal or infant brain. The motor disorders of cerebral palsy are often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, perception, cognition, communication, and behavior [sic], by epilepsy, and by secondary musculoskeletal problems.”
While this is a highly technical definition, it can be simplified: cerebral palsy is a permanent disorder that impacts a child’s ability to move. Along with motor difficulties, children may also have other functional impairments linked to the way they think, communicate or perceive the world around them. Cerebral palsy is often caused by an injury to a child’s brain before, during or after birth. Unfortunately, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. Because the initial brain injury that causes cerebral palsy is permanent, treatment aims to treat and prevent complications associated with the disorder, but cannot address the root cause.
Medical Malpractice as a Cause of Cerebral Palsy
Many cerebral palsy diagnoses are rooted in medical malpractice, making these cases highly preventable. Conditions such as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), fetal oxygen deprivation, umbilical cord complications, C-section mistakes, traumatic birth injury, overventilation and fetal stroke can all cause cerebral palsy, though they are not the only ones. Medical professionals can make mistakes that constitute medical malpractice including, but not limited to:
- Incorrect monitoring of maternal and fetal health
- Inappropriate response to or management of fetal oxygen deprivation
- Improper handling of delivery-related complications
- Improper treatment of maternal health issues during a pregnancy
- Inappropriate use of anesthesia and certain medications.
For these reasons, it is important for those who believe that they have cerebral palsy due to medical negligence to receive proper legal counseling. The Reiter and Walsh, P.C. team has exclusively focused on birth injury cases, and we would be happy to provide a free legal consultation to answer your legal questions.
The Need for Cerebral Palsy Research
A second major goal of National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month is to raise awareness of the importance of increasing research funding to prevent and treat CP. Reducing instances of medical malpractice is a key part of preventing cerebral palsy. It is important that cerebral palsy-related research into prevention, care and treatment thrive. There are numerous organizations that assist with awareness and research, including the following:
- United Cerebral Palsy
- The Pediatric Brain Foundation
- The Cerebral Palsy Foundation
- The Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association (CHASA)
- The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
At Reiter & Walsh, we believe that it is important to support those affected by cerebral palsy. We work tirelessly for the clients we represent. Due to our belief in doing our utmost to assist those who have been harmed by medical malpractice leading to a cerebral palsy diagnosis, we do not charge any fees until the case is won. We hope that we will be able to do our part to assist those affected by medical malpractice-related cerebral palsy. Please feel free to contact us for a free case evaluation.