Cerebral Palsy Compensation Claim - Toronto
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Cerebral Palsy FAQs
What is cerebral palsy?
A cerebral palsy child suffers from one or a combination of a number of disorders that impair muscle control caused by damage to an infants developing brain. The four main types are:
Athetoid CP which is caused by damage to the areas of the brain that enable smooth, coordinated movements and maintain body posture.
Spastic CP is the most common form and the muscles remain in a constant state of increased involuntary reflex which causes stiff and jerky movements.
Ataxic CP is characterised by slow, uncoordinated, unsteady and shaky movement.
Mixed CP is a combination of the above types but is most often a mixture of spasticity and athetoid movements.
What are the forms of cerebral palsy?
Infant monoplegia cerebral palsy is rare and involves just one arm or one leg however the term is still used when there is minor involvement of more than one limb. The reality is that monoplegia cerebral palsy is almost always in fact, a case of hemiplegia with minimal involvement of the second limb however as the disability is restricted to just one area it is a relatively mild form. A similar condition is known as monparesis which relates to difficulties with a group of muscles within a single limb causing difficulties but falling short of paralysis.
Spastic diplegia cerebral palsy refers to full or partial paralysis of corresponding limbs on both sides of the body involving some degree of spasticity. This usually involves both legs with minor involvement of both arms and is one of the four main classifications of cerebral palsy.
Spastic hemiplegia cerebral palsy implies that the victim suffers from disability of both an arm and a leg on one side of the body. This condition sometimes occurs twice in the same person and may be confused with quadriplegia however it can often be distinguished from quadriplegia due to different severity of the disability on each side whereas in the case of quadriplegia the disability is usually even on both sides of the body with the left and right sides of the body behaving in the same way.
Children suffering from spastic hemiplegia cerebral palsy usually have more disability in the arm compared to the leg with the usual attendant spastic complications making hand, arm and wrist movements difficult. Spastic Hemiplegia can be difficult to diagnose and distinguish from the other forms of cerebral palsy and positive diagnosis does not usually take place until the child is a few years old.
Most experts consider spastic triplegia cerebral palsy which affects three limbs to be a combination of the other classifications rather than a unique form of CP. It usually affects both legs and one arm and can be caused by a combination of diplegia and hemiplegia or alternatively it can be a form of quadriplegia with a single less affected limb.
Spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy is one of the main classifications of cerebral palsy and is generally the most severely disabling of all with victims often suffering from extensive mental impairment and serious physical disabilities that often necessitate a requirement for full time care. In this case all four limbs are involved, usually with spastic complications, as in double hemiplegia from which it can be differentiated.
In cases of spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy it is common for there to be involvement not only of the limbs but also of the trunk, neck and head. CP is characterized by poor muscle tone together with the typical uncontrolled jerky movements that accompany spasticity and may also involve either or both of the athetoid or ataxic variants. Many children affected by this condition cannot sit, walk or talk and there is usually a minimum requirement of a motorized wheelchair to facilitate any independent movement.
What are the causes?
It is caused by damage to the developing brain which may be as a result of infections during pregnancy in the mother, jaundice in the infant, physical trauma and birth injuries.
What are the risk factors associated with having a cerebral palsy child ?
There are observed risk factors that correlate with an increase in the diagnosis of this condition. A risk factor is a variable which may increase the chance of developing a condition but its presence does not mean that the condition will necessarily occur and the absence of a risk factor does not mean that the condition will not occur. Health care professionals should be fully up to date with their knowledge and possess sufficient information on cerebral palsy to be aware of the presence of any risk factor and ensure that they are able to deal with any potential problems that may have been indicated as likely to occur.
Basic information on cerebral palsy risk factors is outlined below and increased incidence of this condition is associated with :-
There are also maternal indicators which may include:-
There is further information on cerebral palsy relating specifically to the parents and increased risk has been observed in the following cases:
- breech presentation
- complications during labour or delivery
- vascular or respiratory problems during labour or delivery may indicate brain damage or abnormal development
- first child
- fifth child or subsequent child
- low Apgar score which reflects a newborn's condition and is determined from heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes, and skin colour immediately after birth
- twins especially if one dies before, during or shortly after delivery
- nervous system malformations or abnormalities which indicate developmental problems of the nervous system prior to birth
- birth weight of less than 3.5 pounds
- premature birth less than 37 weeks
- multiple births
- blood type incompatibility between mother and child
- micro-organism infection of the child’s nervous system
- proteinuria during the latter stages of pregnancy
- bleeding during the latter stages of pregnancy
- maternal hyperthyroidism
- mothers who have seizures
- maternal German measles
- certain other virus infections
- mother over 40 years old or less than 20 years old
- father 20 years old or younger
- Afro-Caucasian ethnicity
Is it progressive?
Cerebral palsy is non-progressive however the symptoms suffered by a cerebral palsy child may change with time.
How is it diagnosed?
Doctors must test the child's motor skills and carefully consider the medical history and in particular look for evidence of slow development, abnormal muscle tone and unusual posture. Tests and scans may assist in excluding other conditions.
Is there any treatment?
The condition cannot be cured however, treatment can improve the quality of life by increasing independent mobility. Treatment may include surgery, medications and physical therapy.
How can it be prevented?
Regular antenatal care can assist in the early recognition of potential problems which may predispose a child to being born with this condition. Once the risk has been recognised appropriate action can be taken by healthcare professionals.
What are the symptoms?
A cerebral palsy child may vary from being clumsy to showing extensive spasticity. Parents may notice that their child is not reaching normal developmental milestones at the age that they should reach them. The child may also show an unusual posture or favor one side of their body or show lack of bodily control or suffer from stiff and jerky movements.
Was it caused by medical malpractice?
The following items may indicate negligence on the part of a healthcare professional which may substantiate a cerebral palsy compensation claim :-
- failure to recognize and treat seizures following delivery
- excessive use of vacuum extraction
- failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord reducing oxygen supply
- improper use of delivery forceps
- not responding to changes in the fetal heart rate
- failure to perform a c-section in the presence of fetal distress
- failure to plan a c-section for a potentially large birth weight
- failure to diagnose and treat jaundice or meningitis
- failure to respond to the mother's high blood pressure or toxemia
- leaving the child in the birth canal too long causing a lack of oxygen to the brain