The term cerebral palsy refers to a number of neurological disorders that permanently affect motor skills. Symptoms of cerebral palsy—CP for short—typically appear in very young children (under age three). Classic characteristics of CP include the following:
- Problems with head control
- Non-specific lack of coordination (known as ataxia), including poorly developed motor skills and problems writing or using the hands
- Spasticity, such as abnormal muscle tension (too stiff or too relaxed), involuntary spasms, and lack of bladder and/or bowel control
- Difficulty walking or crawling
- Difficulty with sight, speech, and hearing
Life with CP
An incurable condition, cerebral palsy can impose serious lifelong challenges for those afflicted. In addition to their limited motor skills, those suffering from CP often require expansive therapy regimens and costly equipment in order to gain or maintain day-to-day functionality. Even with the help of expensive drugs and surgeries, many individuals with CP are never able to achieve self-sufficiency. However, recent technological advances are enabling many with CP to communicate more effectively.
Causes of CP
Often, cerebral palsy is unavoidable, occurring because of abnormal brain development during the early fetal stages. But CP can also be an unfortunate effect of birth injury or other preventable medical errors committed during pregnancy, labor, or childbirth. Certain errors that lead to CP may even be considered malpractice, such as failure to identify fetal distress or other problems during delivery, improper use of forceps or a vacuum extractor, or failure to monitor or properly treat the baby immediately following birth. In cases deemed malpractice, parents are often successful in attaining coverage for the undue medical costs when they pursue the matter legally.
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.