Louisville Cerebral Palsy Attorneys
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common motor disabilities in childhood and, unfortunately, often occurs as a result of medical malpractice during a woman’s pregnancy and delivery.
If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and you believe it is the result of a birth injury, Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC can talk to you about the advisability of bringing a lawsuit against negligent health care providers. Our team of Louisville medical malpractice lawyers have extensive experience handling birth injury cases including cerebral palsy.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect motor function, often characterized by decreased muscle tone, disordered movement, involuntary reflexes, and floppy or stiff limbs.
Although this condition affects motor skills, it is caused by abnormal brain development, and can occur as a result of a brain injury. This condition is chronic, though there are treatments available to support those living with cerebral palsy.
Can Cerebral Palsy Develop During Childbirth?
Individuals with cerebral palsy typically develop the condition while still in their mother’s womb, or soon thereafter. However, cerebral palsy may sometimes develop in the formative years of a child’s life. It is caused by irregular brain development or brain damage, so if a baby or young child suffers a head injury, it is possible that he or she could develop cerebral palsy as a result.
During the labor and delivery process, doctors, nurses, and hospital staff are expected to provide the mother and baby with a certain standard of care and respond to emergencies in the delivery room quickly and appropriately. If medical professionals fail to uphold a reasonable standard of care, and an infant suffers injuries or trauma during birth, the child may develop cerebral palsy.
For example, cerebral palsy can be caused by:
- The medical practitioner failing to recognize signs of fetal distress or lack of oxygen in the infant
- The medical practitioner failing to monitor the infant appropriately
- The medical practitioner delaying in their decision to perform an emergency C-section
- The medical practitioner injuring the infant from their use of forceps or a vacuum assistance device
Whether an injury to your child occurred due to miscommunication between hospital staff, a doctor not following standard procedures, or some other preventable error, our Louisville cerebral palsy lawyers at Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway are here to help. Our Louisville birth injury lawyers understand the seriousness of these injuries and have the experience and financial resources necessary to take on large hospitals and insurance companies.
Is There a Cure For Cerebral Palsy?
Sadly, there is no cure for cerebral palsy at this time. However, there have been several breakthroughs in treatment options over the past decade. With the proper care, medications, and physical therapy, it is possible to improve movement and mobility. In more severe cases of cerebral palsy, progressive treatment methods can even help improve communication skills.
Different Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are three main types of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic cerebral palsy
- Athetoid cerebral palsy
- Ataxic cerebral palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy causes stiffness and movement issues. On the other hand, athetoid cerebral palsy leads to involuntary and uncontrolled actions. Ataxic cerebral palsy is different in that it causes a flawed sense of balance and depth perception.
The symptoms of cerebral palsy can make simple movements such as walking, sitting, eating or standing very difficult. In addition, other vital functions can be affected by the condition, including breathing, bladder control and bowel management.
How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
At this time, there is no concrete test used to diagnose cerebral palsy. In cases of birth trauma, a child may be diagnosed soon after the delivery. Otherwise, many individuals are diagnosed within the first few years of life. For those with milder symptoms, a diagnosis may not be uncovered until the brain is fully developed. If your child suffered distress during his or her delivery, cerebral palsy could be a consequence of the experience. Any damage to your child’s brain could be especially suggestive of the disorder.
Although cerebral palsy can be characterized as a birth injury or birth complication, the condition is not often apparent until months later. While most children can be diagnosed with cerebral palsy by the age of two, some children with mild cases may not receive a diagnosis until the age of four or five.
From birth until age five, children are monitored closely to ensure that they are meeting their developmental milestones. All children develop at their own pace and may not necessarily meet the milestones as expected. However, the expected physical and behavioral characteristics of the different developmental stages helps parents and doctors to gauge the health and wellbeing of a child.
Babies get checkups at intervals recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. From birth to 24 months, children have at least ten pediatric visits to monitor their development. At these visits, the child’s development is monitored. Children born premature or at a low birthweight are closely monitored because of the risk for developmental problems like cerebral palsy. If the child is not meeting the developmental milestones, it may be an indication that the child should undergo a developmental screening test to determine the reason for the delay.
Developmental Screening Test
Developmental screening tests involve closer monitoring of a child’s development. The pediatrician will focus on a number of developmental factors including the child’s coordination and balance, control of their movement, their muscle tone, their physical growth and development, and their hearing and vision. The parents’ observations about the child are also an important part of the developmental screening test. These developmental screening tests are usually conducted during the child’s 9 month and subsequent checkups.
Brain Scanning Test
In addition to developmental screening tests, the doctor may order additional tests to eliminate other possible causes of developmental delays, look for damage in the brain, and confirm a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Further brain scanning tests could include:
- X-ray: A hip x-ray can show how the bones are growing and the development of the hip joint.
- Ultrasound: Although this is not the most effective diagnostic method, it is the safest method for high-risk, preterm infants.
- Computer tomography (CT scan): This method takes pictures of the brain and can reveal damage to the brain associated with cerebral palsy.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This method uses a combination of radio waves and a magnetic field to create images of the brain. Like a CT scan, an MRI can reveal damage to the brain, but in better detail than a CT scan.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG): This test measures the brain’s activity and can be used to rule out disorders such as epilepsy if the child has also had seizures.
- Genetic testing: This test analyzes the child’s DNA to identify any changes or abnormalities, which may be causing illness or disease in the child.
- Metabolic testing: This test is not necessarily a diagnostic test for cerebral palsy, but like genetic testing, it may identify other issues that the child may be dealing with.
If the results point to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, the child may be referred to a specialist depending on their needs. Children with cerebral palsy suffer from a range of health problems including poor vision, hearing loss, and limited mobility.
What is Medical Negligence?
Medical negligence is an act or omission by a medical practitioner, which falls below the accepted standard of care, and results in a patient’s injury. In every case, the medical practitioner’s actions are reviewed against the expected actions of a reasonable medical practitioner with the same skill and experience. If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy because of the poor standard of care you received from your doctor or other medical provider, you may have a medical negligence claim. Proving that your doctor’s actions fell below the accepted standard of care requires the testimony of medical experts with experience in the area of medicine in question. In addition to our in-house medical staff, the Louisville medical malpractice lawyers at Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC have access to medical experts who can provide testimony in your case.
Preparing a Cerebral Palsy Case in Louisville, Kentucky
Because of the complexity of cerebral palsy, you need an experienced cerebral palsy injury attorney in Louisville with the resources and expertise to investigate the case, determine the legally responsible parties, and estimate the value of the case. All of this must be done within Kentucky’s one year limit for filing a medical negligence case.
Our in-house medical staff have the resources to investigate your case and take the necessary action to gather supporting evidence for your claim.
How is Cerebral Palsy Treated?
There is no cure for cerebral palsy. It is a lifelong condition that a patient must deal with, and treatment options will depend on the specific symptoms and needs of each patient. Patients may need a combination of treatments including medications, physical and occupational therapy, surgical procedures, and other treatments to manage common health conditions associated with cerebral palsy. These treatment options help to improve the patient’s quality of life.
It is impossible to know with certainty what a patient’s future needs will be, but long-term treatment is expensive. When your child’s cerebral palsy is the result of a medical practitioner’s negligent actions, you should not have to bear the financial burden. A cerebral palsy lawsuit can provide the resources that you need to care for your child now and into the future.
Get Knowledgeable Help From Our Louisville Cerebral Palsy Lawyers
Obstetric malpractice, or any area of medical malpractice, is a complicated area of law that requires extensive knowledge, resources, and commitment from your attorney. Since 1986, our firm has represented parents and their children in cerebral palsy lawsuits. We have financial resources and relationships with medical experts that give our firm the ability to thoroughly handle all matters.
We ask, and find the answers to, questions about the cause of the birth injury, such as:
- Did the OBGYN or nurse fail to recognize fetal distress or a lack of oxygen?
- Was the fetal heart rate being monitored closely?
- Was the decision to perform a C-section delayed?
- Did the baby sustain head trauma from forceps or a vacuum assisted delivery?
Relying upon our vast network of resources in the medical field, we use CT scans, MRIs, and other tests to refute the defense’s argument. At Dolt, Thompson, Shepherd & Conway, PSC our firm handles only a small number of cases at any one time. Each client receives personalized attention as we seek fair compensation for their child’s injuries. Contact us to learn how our Louisville cerebral palsy lawyers can help with your case. Call 502-244-7772 today to schedule a free consultation and find out if you have a birth injury claim.
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