Little Rock Cerebral Palsy Attorneys
Arkansas birth injury attorneys fighting for your child’s rights and future
Maternity doctors and staff who deliver babies into the world have a duty to follow proper medical procedures. Hospitals and physicians should understand what complications may arise during a delivery. They should take known steps to reduce the risk of a child developing cerebral palsy. If doctors run proper tests during the pregnancy and respond quickly to emergencies during the delivery process, many types of birth injuries are preventable.
At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, our Little Rock birth injury lawyers work with physicians who understand what procedures and protocols birth doctors should follow immediately before and during the delivery. We work with cerebral palsy specialists and therapists to fully understand how your child’s life will be affected by a cerebral palsy diagnosis. This includes determining what medical needs must be addressed, what bills must be paid for the child’s lifetime, and what difficulties might arise. We have a highly respected record of success in catastrophic injury cases negotiating strong settlements and obtaining just verdicts.
What is cerebral palsy?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.” About one in 323 children in America have cerebral palsy. Cerebral refers to the brain, and palsy refers to problems using the muscles. While in some cases cerebral palsy may be due to genetic mutations that are unavoidable, in many cases, cerebral palsy is due to medical errors during the delivery process.
The symptoms of cerebral palsy vary, and there are different degrees of the disorder, from mild to very severe.
- The most common type is spastic cerebral palsy, which affects about 80% of those who have cerebral palsy. Children and adults with spastic cerebral palsy have increased muscle tone, meaning their muscles are stiff, which affects movement.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy includes coordination and balance problems.
- Dyskinetic cerebral palsy involves difficulty controlling muscle movement, causing abrupt and twisting movements.
- Mixed cerebral palsy is a combination of the other three types of cerebral palsy.
Signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy
Indicators for cerebral palsy usually occur during infancy. The Mayo Clinic lists these possible symptoms:
- Muscles that are too stiff or too floppy
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Rigid muscles
- A loss of coordination
- Involuntary movements
- Delays in reaching motor skills milestones
- Favoring one side of the body
- Difficulty in walking
- Difficulty swallowing, sucking, or eating
- Difficulty speaking
- Learning problems
- Vision and hearing problems
- Oral diseases
- Mental health issues
- Urinary incontinence
The effects of cerebral palsy are different for everyone. Some people with cerebral palsy need a wheelchair while others don’t. Some may never speak while others may have limitations but may be able to fully participate in life with rehabilitation. The Gross Motor Function Classification System is a standard for assessing the severity of an infant’s or child’s cerebral palsy:
- LEVEL I. Walks without limitations
- LEVEL II. Walks with limitations
- LEVEL III. Walks using a hand-held mobility device
- LEVEL IV. Self-mobility with limitations; may use powered mobility
- LEVEL V. Transported in a manual wheelchair
The Gross Motor Function Classification Systems further assesses cerebral palsy based on the following age studies:
- Before age 2
- Between 2 and 4
- Between 4 and 6
- Between 6 and 12
- Between 12 and 18
Types of medical malpractice that can cause cerebral palsy
Some of the medical failures that can result in a cerebral palsy diagnosis include:
- Failure to properly monitor the newborn before, during, and after the delivery. Medical staff should monitor the infant’s oxygen levels and heart rate. The vital signs can indicate the child isn’t getting enough oxygen.
- Not switching to a Caesarian section. If a child isn’t getting enough oxygen, a Caesarian section may be the better alternative to avoid brain damage.
- Not responding to signs of fetal distress. Doctors should look for any signs of distress such as an umbilical cord that prolapses and becomes trapped around or against the infant.
Other medical mistakes can include:
- Failing to treat infections, trauma, or anything that could cause a lack of oxygen to the brain
- Improperly using forceps and vacuum extractors
- Anything that would rupture blood vessels
- Failing to treat “placenta previa,” which occurs when the placenta attaches to the cervix instead of the uterus
Is my child at risk of developing cerebral palsy?
There are numerous risk factors during the pregnancy and delivery that obstetricians and other medical providers should be aware of and know how to treat or how to respond to. Some of the risk factors cited by the Mayo Clinic are:
- Infections or toxic exposures that the mother may have or acquire. These include:
- A common virus that feels like the flu.
- German measles (rubella).Vaccines can normally prevent this type of infection.
- A mother can pass this disease to her child during the pregnancy causing severe health issues for the newborn.
- A sexually transmitted bacterial infection.
- This infection is usually due to contaminated food, soil, or cat feces.
- Zika virus infection.Infants for whom maternal Zika infection causes their head size to be smaller than normal (microcephaly) can develop cerebral palsy.
- Illnesses the infant may have or acquire. These include:
- Bacterial meningitis.
- Viral encephalitis.
- Severe or untreated jaundice.
- Bleeding into the brain.This condition is commonly caused by the baby having a stroke in the womb.
- Additional risk factors for cerebral palsy include:
- A breech birth.
- Babies who weigh less than five and a half pounds.
- If the mother is having a multiple birth.
- Premature births.
Where can I find treatment for my child’s cerebral palsy in Little Rock?
There currently is no cure for cerebral palsy. Treatments vary depending on the severity of the disorder. Some infants may require corrective surgeries, such as orthopedic surgeries or surgeries to straighten the spine. There are other surgeries that may help your child as well.
Many children with cerebral palsy:
- Need to use assistive devices such as wheelchairs and devices to aid in communication.
- Need medications to help control their pain.
- Require a lifetime of different therapies. These include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychological therapy, and therapies to learn and communicate.
- Require help from nurses and other health providers to walk, bathe, eat, and groom.
United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas
United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas (UCP) was founded in 1957. It helps people with cerebral palsy and their parents through advocacy and through direct services. You can reach them here:
- United Cerebral Palsy of Arkansas
- 9720 North Rodney Parham Road
- Little Rock, AR 72227
- 501-224-6067 or 800-228-6174
Little Rock clients trust Bailey & Greer to represent their birth injury cases
A diagnosis of cerebral palsy is often life changing for a newborn and for parents. At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, our Little Rock birth injury attorneys are skilled at both showing that there was a lack of proper medical care and showing just how much medical help your newborn will need for the rest of his/her life. Doctors and hospitals who commit medical malpractice should pay for all your child’s medical needs and pain and suffering. Damages in cerebral palsy cases can be worth millions. We won’t back down in the face of large hospitals and insurance companies. To speak with our aggressive medical malpractice lawyers, call us at or 501-213-1512 or fill out our contact form.