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Cerebral Palsy Malpractice Lawyer

What is the prevalence of Cerebral Palsy in the United States?

It is estimated that approximately 764,000 people in the United States have Cerebral Palsy.  Approximately 8,000 babies and newborns are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy each year.  In addition, approximately 1,200 to 1,500 preschoolers are diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy each year.

What are the early signs and symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?

Babies with Cerebral Palsy usually exhibit the early signs and symptoms of Cerebral Palsy by 18 months.  One of the most common signs of Cerebral Palsy is developmental delay.  Developmental delay means that the baby is slower than normal to reach developmental milestones such as rolling over, crawling, smiling, walking, etc.  Another sign of Cerebral Palsy is unusual muscle tone.  Hypotonia is abnormal flaccidity of the muscles.  Hypertonia is abnormal rigidity of the muscles.  Both hypotonia and hypertonia can be signs of Cerebral Palsy.  If you are concerned that your baby may be exhibiting signs of Cerebral Palsy, you should contact your baby's pediatrician as soon as possible.

How is Cerebral Palsy diagnosed?

To diagnose Cerebral Palsy doctors use a variety of tools, including motor skills testing; testing of the baby's reflexes; careful examination of the baby's and the mother's medical histories; and testing that identifies the early development of hand preference in the baby.  Your doctor may also order brain imaging tests such as CT, MRI, or ultrasound.  An electroencephalogram or EEG may also be performed.

What are the causes of Cerebral Palsy?

Many cases of Cerebral Palsy are caused by a lack of oxygen in the infant's brain suffered during the birthing process.  That is why Cerebral Palsy are often considered a birth injury.  The human brain, like every other organ in the body, needs a constant supply of oxygen.  If the brain is deprived of oxygen during birth, the cells in the brain begin to die.  Brain injuries caused by lack of oxygen in the brain are called hypoxic or anoxic brain injuries.  Hypoxic means abnormally low levels of oxygen to the brain.  Anoxic means the complete absence of oxygen to the brain.

Are there different types of Cerebral Palsy?

There are three basic kinds of Cerebral Palsy:  Spastic Cerebral Palsy; Athetoid or Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy; and Ataxic Cerebral Palsy.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common form of Cerebral Palsy.  70 to 80 percent of all cases of Cerebral Palsy fall into this category.  With this form of Cerebral Palsy, the muscles in the affected areas are permanently contracted and stiff.

Athetoid or Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy affects 10 to 20 percent of all Cerebral Palsy sufferers.  This form of Cerebral Palsy involves uncontrolled, slow, writhing movements of the affected body parts.  It can also affect the ability to speak and control the movements of the mouth and tongue.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is a rare form of Cerebral Palsy that affects the sense of balance and depth perception.

Mixed Forms of Cerebral Palsy:  It is not unusual for patients to have characteristics of more than one of these three basic forms of Cerebral Palsy.

What treatments are available for Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy is not curable.  However, Cerebral Palsy does not worsen over time.  If your child's condition is getting progressively worse, you should contact your child's pediatrician as soon as possible as your child may be suffering from another condition.

Treatment of Cerebral Palsy should be started as early as possible.  Treatment aims to improve quality of life, increase strength, and improve the patient's performance of daily living skills and activities.  Physical, occupational, and speech therapy are often prescribed.  Orthotic devices are often used.  Surgery and medications are also considered in appropriate cases.

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania there is a great treatment and support resource for parents of children with Cerebral Palsy called United Cerebral Palsy of Pittsburgh.

The lawyers at Berger & Lagnese have a wealth of experience helping the parents of children with Cerebral Palsy determine the cause of their child's Cerebral Palsy, and helping them decide whether a medical malpractice lawsuit is appropriate.

If you have a child with Cerebral Palsy and you would like find the cause of your child's Cerebral Palsy, call us at 412-471-4300 , or email us for a free evalaution of your case.  Berger & Lagnese has an experienced team of attorneys and doctors that specializes in medical malpractice, and works on cases in Pittsburgh, Greensburg, Uniontown, Erie, Beaver, Washington, and throughout Pennsylvania.

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