Maine Cerebral Palsy Lawyer

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Learning that your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy can be difficult for you and your family. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a series of neurological disorders for which there is currently no known cure. It typically requires medical treatment and various therapies throughout an individual's lifetime to manage. CP presents people with lifelong challenges that affect children and families.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a term that refers to a condition, or group of conditions, that are chronic neurological disorders. The neurological disorders affect the part of the brain that controls motor functions and movement. Signs may appear in infancy or early childhood and can effect a child's movement, posture, and muscle coordination.

Early signs of cerebral palsy include a lack of muscle coordination when trying to perform voluntary movements (such as moving a hand or leg), stiff or tight muscles, walking on toes, dragging a foot or leg, walking with a crouched gait, or having irregular muscle tone. Additional issues associated with cerebral palsy may include difficulty with swallowing, speech problems, visual impairment, seizures, skin disorders, and learning disabilities.

In its mildest forms, cerebral palsy can simply cause difficulty controlling the muscles in one hand. With proper physical and occupational therapy, control can be gradually restored. In its most severe forms, it can render the person almost completely immobile. If the trauma was quite severe, the person can become quadriplegic and lose the ability to communicate. It can also cause the brain to not progress at a normal rate. Severe cases of cerebral palsy might mean that an 8-year-old child may drink from a sippy cup and wear diapers, a 10-year-old child may eat mashed vegetables because he or she cannot chew or swallow properly, and a 15-year-old may not be able to walk or run.

What can cause cerebral palsy?

Congenital cerebral palsy accounts for approximately 70 percent of cerebral palsy cases; the cause of most of these cases is unknown. Risk factors that may contribute to this type of cerebral palsy include, but are not limited to:

a mother's development of an infection during pregnancy
a mother's contraction of an illness, such as measles, during pregnancy
an incompatibility between a mother and fetus' blood types
medication or drugs administered to a mother during pregnancy
lack of prenatal care

Approximately 10 percent of cerebral diagnoses are cases in which cerebral palsy was acquired after birth. This can occur as a result of brain damage in the first few months of life, from brain infection or from a brain injury in a car accident, fall, or child abuse.

An additional 20 percent of cerebral palsy cases may be related to brain injury that occurred during the birthing process. Asphyxia (a lack of oxygen to the brain) or brain injury that results in bleeding may lead to the development of cerebral palsy. Asphyxia may occur from a premature separation of the placenta, strangulation by the umbilical cord, or other complications. Bleeding of the brain may come from pressure related to a vaginal delivery or some sort of trauma during the birth process.

How can cerebral palsy be managed?

There are many varying degrees of severity in cases of CP but if treatment is initiated at a young age, there is a much better chance for the child. Treatment of CP can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and/or speech therapy.

Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, there are a variety of medications that can be used in conjunction with physical therapy. Medications to alleviate pain, as well as limit muscle contractions, have proved to be quite helpful.

Why might an attorney or lawyer be needed?

When a child is born, time is of the essence. It is at this period that a child's brain is most susceptible to injury and any slight error can have life-altering consequences. While medical professionals do what they can to avoid birth complications, including using devices to monitor the health of an infant during labor, errors and mistakes are still possible. For instance, if the brain is lacking oxygen at birth, it can cause CP. There are a variety of ways that a physician could be at fault for your child's disability. Waiting too long to perform a caesarean section and failure to diagnose fetal distress are two possible birth injuries a doctor could be responsible for that could possibly result in cerebral palsy.

Birth injury medical negligence cases are challenging and difficult to prove. To make a claim that will hold up legally, an attorney must prove that there was a breach in the standard of care, causation, injury, and damages. A lawyer who is well-versed in Maine medical malpractice law will be able to guide you through the legal process, assess your case to determine whether or not you can make a claim, and pursue compensation and justice.


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