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Cerebral Palsy

Was Cerebral Palsy as a result of medical negligence?

Cerebral Palsy is a condition which is caused by a problem in the parts of the brain which are responsible for controlling your muscles. The condition can occur if the brain develops abnormally, or if it is damaged before, during or shortly after birth. 

A diagnosis of cerebral palsy can be shattering and can feel catastrophic. In some cases a high level of ongoing care and support will be needed not only for the person who has been diagnosed, but for their families who also experience the emotional impact of the diagnosis.

Where cerebral palsy occurs as a result of a traumatic birth, it is often the case that the injury to the brain could have been avoided. Some of these preventable injuries to the brain can be caused by inadequate levels of care by midwives or doctors at the time of delivery and birth, but may not be recognised at the time.

What are the common causes of cerebral palsy that are often not acted upon during labour? 
Sometimes during the course of labour, an unborn baby’s heart rate might increase, decrease or vary beyond normal levels. There is usually an underlying problem which causes this, and a baby’s heart rate can and should be monitored throughout labour. A failure to recognise whether or not a baby is in distress, and to act upon this, can be dangerous for the baby. 

In some cases the umbilical cord (the lifeline which connects a mother to her baby) can snap or become wound around the baby’s neck. If the cord snaps the baby will be unable to receive oxygen and this is likely to lead to changes in the baby’s heart rate, either in the form of accelerations or decelerations. If the cord becomes wound around the baby’s neck then this, combined with the intra-uterine pressure from contractions, can stop the baby receiving oxygen, which puts the baby at risk and can lead to foetal distress. 

Ordinarily, in these circumstances where a baby is in distress, there will be a need to deliver the baby as soon as possible, and sometimes this can be done by an emergency caesarean section. Without fast intervention, foetal distress can result in long-term oxygen deprivation to the baby’s brain and this can cause irreversible damage.

What happens if the baby becomes stuck?
Sometimes it can be difficult to deliver the baby, particularly if the baby’s shoulders become stuck. In these circumstances, it can be helpful to use forceps or a ventouse extractor to encourage the descent of the baby. However, specialist skill is required to use these forceps and if they are not used correctly then lasting damage can be caused to the baby.

Can anything be done to prevent an infection causing cerebral palsy?
A major cause of cerebral palsy can be an unidentified infection, or an infection that goes untreated. Any substandard care by a nurse or a midwife can be devastating. The longer the delay in treating an infection, or even meningitis, the higher the risk of there being a brain injury.

How does cerebral palsy affect development?
Cerebral Palsy can present itself in the form of muscle stiffness, or muscle weakness, and can cause balance or co-ordination problems. Often, cerebral palsy is not diagnosed until it becomes apparent that a child is slower in achieving developmental goals, such as learning to stand, crawl or walk or even talk. At this stage a number of investigations will need to be carried out before a final diagnosis can be made.

Does cerebral palsy get worse?
Cerebral Palsy doesn’t get worse, as it is not a progressive illness. The original problem is self-limiting and usually the only new changes that are noticed relate to the strain put on the body in living with cerebral palsy.

At NewLaw our main aim is to ensure that you are provided with all the support and help you need to get the care, treatment and financial assistance you deserve for both the short and the long term. The lawyers in our team, and our dedicated Welfare Managers, will work with you from the outset to make the process as straightforward as possible.

We will bring in a team of experts to work with you and to help you adjust and make your life as easy as possible. We will work with a range of specialists to ensure that you receive the right help at the right time, including: 

  • brain injury medical specialists 
  • care experts 
  • employment experts 
  • case managers 
  • support workers 
  • therapy providers 
  • Court of Protection advice

We have recovered millions of pounds in compensation for our clients to date. But more importantly, we have through securing proper compensation been able to provide care, treatment and support for victims and their families, enabling them to improve the quality of their lives. 

We are active members of Headway and the Child Brain Injury Trust and are members of their specialist panels recommended for representing clients who have a brain injury. You can find out more on these organisations by clicking here

The sooner you contact us, the more chance we have of ensuring your claim is successful. 

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