Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that is generally the result of lack of oxygen or malformation to a baby’s brain during pregnancy or childbirth and up to three years following the birth.
In circumstances where the condition could have been avoided such as the negligence or carelessness of a medical professional, a compensation claim for cerebral palsy caused by clinical negligence can be made to recover damages to help with the long-term care of the patient.
Approximately 1 in 475 births result in cerebral palsy. As much as 90% of these cases are during pregnancy with the remaining 10% occurring during birth or very shortly afterwards.
Primarily affecting the muscles and body movement cerebral palsy can be caused by a number of things some of which are preventable and some of which are not.
Types of cerebral palsy
The four types of cerebral palsy are:
Every cerebral palsy type affects muscle and motor skills together with anything from speech to intellect can be changed.
There are also psychological, emotional and behavioural issues that people suffering cerebral palsy have to cope with.
The life expectancy for anyone with cerebral palsy is not notably reduced and many daily routines may be unaffected. The disorder is not progressive so will not worsen over time.
Non-preventable cerebral palsy
The vast majority of cerebral palsy cases are not caused by clinical or medical negligence and are due to other factors that in many instances are not preventable. Typical examples are which are:
- Congenital malformation is usually the cause of cerebral palsy which means no medical negligence had taken place and the baby had already had the condition prior to labour.
- Exposure to infections such as rubella
- A premature birth or underweight baby.
- During the pregnancy the mother suffers severe physical trauma such as a bad fall or vehicle accident.
- Chemical exposure to a mother such as alcohol or cigarettes.
Clinical negligence can lead to cerebral palsy and there are a number of medical mistakes that can be made both during pregnancy, in the childbirth and following the birth. These can include:
- Not responding or failing to notice high blood pressure of toxaemia in the mother.
- Leaving the child in the birth canal for too long.
- Incorrect use of forceps or vacuum (ventouse) extraction.
- Failure to respond to foetal distress when a caesarean section is performed.
- Not detecting a prolapsed umbilical cord.
- Failure to react to changes in the baby’s heart rate.
- Failure to detect a prolapsed umbilical cord.
- Failure to treat seizures following delivery.
- Misdiagnosis of jaundice or meningitis.
- Not treating seizures after delivery.
During the commotion of labour it is sometimes difficult to recognise and react if things are going wrong although in many instances there are clear warnings signs which medical professionals should be able to spot and deal with accordingly.
- If the baby is born using caesarean section or forceps.
- A specialist is called in to the delivery room.
- CPR is performed to the baby.
- Oxygen provided for the baby.
- The baby is transferred to an Intensive Care Unit.
- Tests soon after birth like MRI, CT and brain scans will also be a cause for concern.
These points could be signs of a number of problems or in fact no problem at all but if a baby has cerebral palsy following the birth and any of these factors were present then it could be a sign of medical negligence that would require further investigation.
Treating and managing cerebral palsy
Coping with cerebral palsy is unfortunately a lifelong struggle for both the injured person and their loved ones. Whilst the disorder does not become any worse it is not curable and will not improve over time.
Various treatments are available to help cope with the disorder such as physiotherapy to help deal with the pain of the condition. Physiotherapy will also help to stop the muscles shortening and becoming weak which can cause further discomfort and pain.
Occupational therapy is also available to teach the child daily tasks such as how to dress and got to the toilet. Occupational therapy to teach a child daily tasks is important to maintain the child’s independence and build confidence.
Cerebral palsy will often affect speech so speech therapy will be required through a series of exercises to assist any speech problems. Alternatively the child may be able to learn different ways to communicate such as sign language.
To help with and correct problems with joints and bones by lengthening shortened muscles Orthopaedic surgery may be required.
An infant with cerebral palsy will need to be regularly checked to ensure no secondary problems develop.
Charities and organisations such as Scope are available to help people with cerebral palsy and their families and ensure they have the same opportunities as everyone else.
Claiming Compensation for cerebral palsy caused by clinical negligence
A child born with or developing cerebral palsy whether from a congenital malformation or from clinical negligence can have a devastating effect on the child and its parents.
If cerebral palsy was caused by clinical negligence or medical negligence then it is important to make a claim for compensation in order for the child to receive financial security against any unforeseen costs and hurdles the disorder may bring in the future.
Claiming compensation will help with the cost of transport, loss of earnings, and medication together with special equipment need to cope with the disorder.
As cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition compensation payments are usually high to reflect the support needed.
Cerebral palsy compensation claims for clinical negligence are normally not straight forward claims and anyone making a claim will benefit from having an experienced clinical negligence solicitor to handle the claim on their behalf.
Injury Claims Assistance has specialist clinical negligence solicitors to help people who believe they have been the victims of clinical or medical negligence.
Our solicitors will be able to give you free legal advice and assess the circumstances of your case. If they feel you do have grounds to make a compensation claim for negligence they will be able to handle your claim at no cost to you as all clinical and medical negligence cases are handled on a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement which means if the claim is unsuccessful you will not be responsible for any costs or fees.