Cerebral Palsy - Medical Negligence Solicitors – Compensation Claims

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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy or CP is used to describe a wide variety of chronic disorders of movement due to damage to the movement centers of the brain that is developing. It usually reaches its full potential by age 2-3. Once present, it is nonprogressive so it doesn’t appreciably worsen over time. Symptoms, however, do change over time palsy is one of the more common. Cerebral causes of chronic childhood disabilities.

In terms of incidence, over 1,000 infants are diagnosed each year and an additional 200 preschoolers are diagnosed in the UK with cerebral palsy. In terms of prevalence, it is estimated that over 100,000 British people have cerebral palsy. Between 35 and 50 percent of children with cerebral palsy will also have a seizure disorder and some degree of mental impairment. They may also have learning disabilities and defects in speech, vision, language or hearing.

There is a lot unknown about how cerebral palsy is caused but evidence is supporting birth injuries, infection and poor oxygen supply to the brain before, during and after birth as probable causes. Preterm infants are especially vulnerable to such insults. Insults to the brain such as seen in meningitis in the first years of life, physical injury, and severe dehydration can result in brain injury and secondary cerebral palsy.

Early signs of cerebral palsy usually start before the age of three but are definitely present by the time the patient turns 3 years old. Infants who develop CP usually fail to reach developmental milestones, such as rolling over, crawling, sitting, smiling or walking. Some babies appear unusually stiff and may have an unusual posture. They may favor one side of the body over the other.

There are three main types of cerebral palsy:

  • Spastic CP. This is the most common type of CP. Muscles are very stiff and weak. It mostly seen in both legs or in one leg and one arm on the same side.
  • Dyskinetic or athetoid CP: voluntary muscle control is lost. They often exhibit bizarre twisting motions of the body as well as tremors.
  • Mixed cerebral palsy is a combination of the above.

Causes of cerebral palsy include brain injury during development in the womb. While it is present at birth, it may not show up for several months. About 70 percent of babies are diagnosed with prenatal cerebral palsy and an additional 20 percent of kids are diagnosed with congenital cerebral palsy, due to birth trauma. Ten percent are diagnosed because of trauma or illness after birth.

Common causes are infections during pregnancy, such as rubella or German measles, cytomegalovirus and toxoplasmosis, all of which affect the mother and the foetus. Some infections are completely undetected in pregnancy but are being detected now that it seems these are important. Severe jaundice in the infant can be a cause of cerebral palsy. Newborns need a few days to filter out the bilirubin that builds up in the blood and this can take longer in a baby who is sick or premature.

Rh incompatibility between mother and infant can cause cerebral palsy. More serious problems can occur as well. The physical and metabolic trauma of birth can precipitate brain damage in infants who would otherwise be health. Breech deliveries can lead to birth trauma and CP. Oxygen deprivation at the time of birth or trauma to the head in labor and delivery can lead to brain damage and CP.

Ten percent of cerebral palsy cases happen after birth. It’s due to brain trauma within the first few years of life. Infections such as bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis can cause cerebral palsy. It also can be the result of head injury in a baby such as child abuse.

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