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Would you like to know whether your child's Spastic Cerebral Palsy was caused by medical malpractice? We can help.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy is by far the most common form of Cerebral Palsy.  It is estimated that this form of Cerebral Palsy affects between 70 to 80 percent of all Cerebral Palsy sufferers.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy occurs as a result of injury to the outer layer of the brain, called the cerebral cortex.   The cerebral cortex is the 2-4 millimeter-thick outermost layer of the brain.  Part of the cerebral cortex is called the motor cortex.  The motor cortex is responsible for planning, control and execution of voluntary muscle movements.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy affects patients in different ways, depending on the areas of the body it affects and the severity of the disease.  Some patients have mild cases that affect very few movements. Others with more severe cases can have their entire bodies affected.  It can affect one side of the body or just the legs.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy is classified into the following sub-types:

  • Spastic Hemiplegia:  Spastic Hemiplegia is a form of Spastic Cerebral Palsy in which only one side of the body is rigid and stiff.  Generally, injury to the brain's left side will cause a right body deficit, and vice versa. Typically, people who have spastic hemiplegia are the most ambulatory of all Spastic Cerebral Palsy sufferers.  If your child has Spastic Hemiplegia, their arms or hands might be more affected than their legs.  On the affected side, their arm and leg may not develop normally.  They may also require leg braces.
  • Spastic Diplegia:  Spastic Diplegia is a form of Spastic Cerebral Palsy in which your child's leg and hip muscles are overly rigid and tight.  This causes your child's legs to cross at the knees, making it difficult to walk. The kind of movement that is typically associated with Spastic Diplegia is often referred to as "scissoring."
  • Spastic Quadriplegia:  Spastic Quadriplegia is the most severe form of Spastic Cerebral Palsy.  With Spastic Quadriplegia, both arms, both legs and the body are affected.  Children with Spastic Quadriplegia have difficulty walking and talking, and they often experience seizures.  If your child has Spastic Quadriplegia, they are also likely to have mental retardation.

The term spastic comes from the word spasticity, which is a medical condition characterized by extreme muscle tightness, or hypertonia.  As its name suggests, Spastic Cerebral Palsy is characterized by increased tightness in the muscles of the affected area of the body.  Muscles generally work in pairs.  Lifting your arm, for example, involves the coordinated tightening of certain muscles and the relaxing of others.  Spastic Cerebral Palsy prevents this kind of muscle coordination of simultaneous tightening and relaxing.  With Spastic Cerebral Palsy, muscle pairs become active, i.e., tighten together, thus blocking and preventing coordinated movement.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy is not considered a progressive disorder because the brain damage at the heart of the disease does not get progressively worse.  However, spasticity in the patient's muscles can get progressively worse.  As muscles become increasingly rigid, the range of movement in the joints becomes more and more limited.  In addition to changes in the physiology of the muscles, anxiety and extended effort can also increase the debilitating effects of spastic CP, which can also result in overall fatigue.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy can disrupt normal growth in children.  It also affects the child's muscles and the joints of the hands and legs, resulting in abnormal movements and muscle and joint deformities.  Children born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy rarely display deformities of the extremities at birth.  These are developed over time.

Treatments for Spastic Cerebral Palsy include Baclofen, a medication that is administered by inserting a pump into the abdomen.  There is also a new treatment that involves the injection of Botox directly into the patient's muscles.  Botox has been shown to weaken the muscles into which it is injected.  This in turn reduces the spasticity associated with these muscles.  Surgery offers another form of treatment for Spastic Cerebral Palsy.  With surgery, tendons can be lengthened and muscle can be released to improve range of motion.

To determine which treatment will be most helpful for your child requires input from an entire team of medical professionals, including a neurosurgeon, an orthopedic surgeon, a neurologist, a pediatrician and a physical therapist.

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Berger & Lagnese is a law firm with a proven track record of success handling cases of Cerebral Palsy and birth injury medical malpractice.  If your child has Cerebral Palsy and you would like to know whether medical malpractice caused the Cerebral Palsy, you should contact the lawyers at Berger & Lagnese for a free consultation.  We will carefully evaluate your labor and delivery records and determine whether medical malpractice caused your child to develop Cerebral Palsy.

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