Cerebral palsy, also referred to as CP, is an injury that can develop “during fetal development; before, during or shortly after birth; during infancy; or during early childhood,” per the organization United Cerebral Palsy (“UCP”). It affects the ability of the body to coordinate movements. With this disorder, a child will often have muscles that are either floppy and weak, or stiff and rigid. Other symptoms include the inability to walk steadily, involuntary body movements, irregular posture, or some combination.
Defining cerebral palsy
The portion of the brain that manages motor functions of the body is the cerebrum – hence the term “cerebral.” People with CP experience a paralysis that prevents voluntary movement of certain parts of the body – hence the term “palsy.”
There is no known medical cure for this condition. The symptoms can be addressed and improved through proper treatment and therapy.
In the United States, according to UCP, approximately 764,000 people live with cerebral palsy, including 500,000 under the age of 18. As the most common form of childhood physical disability, CP occurs in approximately three births per 1000 in the U.S.
Often this disability is not diagnosed during the first few years of a child’s life. However, the evidence of inhibited muscle coordination and disorders in bodily movements can lead to the diagnosis and recognition of the condition.
Cerebral palsy is categorized in four ways: Spastic, Athetoid/Dyskinetic, Ataxic and Mixed. Approximately 70% of all cases of CP are categorized as spastic.
Receiving a diagnosis that your baby has CP can be devastating, especially considering the irreversible impermanent nature of neurological disorder.
CP’s effect on the body
The brain is the central processing system of the body. It controls vast array of motor functions that enable people to live independent and free. Some motor controls are voluntary, such as raising the hand or taking a step to walk. Others are involuntary or reflexive.
When the brain’s motor control centers are damaged, both voluntary and involuntary motor skills may be greatly inhibited. A child or adult with CP may face great challenges performing activities most of us take for granted such as talking, walking, and using the arms and hands for common daily tasks.
Unlike some conditions that affect the body, CP is a disorder that does not grow worse over time. It can be managed effectively with proper treatment and care.
Factors causing birth injuries leading to CP
Although multiple factors can contribute to the onset of this disability, too often, medical errors and negligence during the birthing process precipitate birth injuries leading to the condition.
A birth injury may occur during pregnancy, while the mother is in labor, or during delivery. Approximately one in five injuries that lead to cerebral palsy occurs around the time of birth. Many of these birth injuries are preventable. The various risk factors that increase the chances of a birth injury occurring, which may potentially also lead to CP, include:
- Blood clots
- Poor medical care
- Abnormalities with the placenta
- Reduced blood or oxygen flow to the baby’s brain
- High blood pressure of the mother
If your child developed CP as a result of a birth injury, you are entitled to justice in the form of compensation for your losses and expenses. At Harris Lowry Manton LLP, our highly skilled Atlanta birth injury attorneys are ready to provide strong advocacy on behalf of you and your family. To get the legal help you need, call us in Atlanta at 404-998-8847, in Savannah at 912-417-3774, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.