New Jersey Cerebral Palsy Lawyers
Advocating for Children with Birth Injuries in Passaic County and across New Jersey
Cerebral palsy is a chronic brain condition that occurs in children when the brain develops abnormally, or when a still-developing brain suffers significant trauma. Also known as CP, the condition can adversely affect a person’s ability to maintain balance and control over their body movements. In many instances, negligence by doctors, physicians, and nurses during labor and delivery is responsible for a child being afflicted with cerebral palsy, making CP one of the most serious of all birth injuries. Cerebral palsy can have devastating consequences for the person diagnosed with the disease and for their loved ones. If you believe your child’s cerebral palsy could have been prevented with proper medical treatment or timely diagnosis, you may have grounds to pursue compensation. It is vital to seek informed counsel from a birth injury lawyer who can evaluate your case to uncover signs of negligence.
At Fronzuto Law Group, our highly experienced New Jersey Birth Injury Attorneys represent children who have developed cerebral palsy (CP) as a result of medical malpractice. With more than 75 years of combined legal experience, our lawyers have obtained multimillion-dollar results for clients throughout New Jersey. We also consult on complex medical negligence cases involving children across the United States. Please schedule a free initial consultation with our Cerebral Palsy lawyers today by calling 973-435-4551 or toll free at 888-409-0816. You may also contact us online to arrange a free consultation about your child’s specific CP case.
Cerebral Palsy Basics
Cerebral palsy is a serious, permanent neurological disorder and one of the most common birth injuries. The medical community uses the term “cerebral palsy” to describe a set of neurological conditions that result in physical developmental disabilities. These disabilities involve total or partial paralysis of the body’s muscles, also known as muscle stiffness or “spasticity.” In many cases, those affected by CP experience uncontrollable tremors, loss of physical sensation, seizures, speech problems and other effects. The condition is typically diagnosed early in a child’s life, often in infancy and usually before the child turns six months old. However, some children are diagnosed in the first few years of life when they begin presenting symptoms. Signs of Cerebral Palsy usually appear by age 3. The child may:
- Crawl in a strange fashion
- Crawl, walk or talk much later than other children
- Have difficulty feeding
- Be unusually “floppy” or stiff when he or she moves
- Have seizures, vision problems or hearing problems
- Display other signs of abnormal development
CP symptoms can be slight or severe. Some children will appear with uncontrolled reflexes and tight muscles that affect the entire body or just certain parts. For example, children with CP may have a limp or have trouble walking. They may have no control over arm and leg movements, or trouble with their tongue, affecting swallowing. Developmentally delayed intellectual ability, seizures, vision problems, and hearing defects are common characteristics of CP. Overall, when a child is afflicted with CP, they are likely to struggle with coordination and movement of their muscles throughout their life.
There is no single treatment for cerebral palsy and children typically benefit from a combination of treatments and therapies addressing their specific symptoms. Specifically, physical and occupational therapies to build up core and trunk muscles, as well as special equipment, can help children with CP deal with physical challenges in walking, talking, swallowing and stretching. Moreover, braces may help maintain balance and wheelchairs offer mobility to those unable to walk, while epilepsy treatment helps with seizures. Since CP is permanent, treatment is often life-long, but early diagnosis can prove extremely beneficial.
What Type of Cerebral Palsy was Your Child Diagnosed With?
There are three main types of cerebral palsy: spastic, ataxic, and athetoid. Each of the primary forms of cerebral palsy are explained in greater detail below.
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form of CP, afflicting around 80% of all children diagnosed with CP. Spastic CP involves stiff muscles, limited mobility, and jerky movements. Individuals with spastic cerebral palsy often need to walk on their tiptoes and may struggle to fully extend their muscles and joints. Subtypes of spastic cerebral palsy include spastic diplegia (affecting the legs), spastic hemiplegia (affecting one side of the body), and spastic quadriplegia (affecting the face, chest, abdomen, arms, and legs).
One of the less common forms of cerebral palsy is ataxic CP, which only affects around 10% of all people with CP. When a person suffers from ataxic CP, they may find themselves struggling to maintain their balance as they walk with an unsteady gait and shake uncontrollably. Generally, movement is not easy for anyone with ataxic cerebral palsy. Even something as simple as holding onto a pencil or pen while writing can be difficult.
Athetoid or Dyskinetic CP
Athetoid cerebral palsy, or dyskinetic cerebral palsy, is characterized by the involuntary movement of the victim’s extremities and their face. Only 10% of those with cerebral palsy are afflicted by this specific form of CP. When a person has athetoid CP, they may find it hard to perform simple tasks such as eating or walking. It can also be difficult for a person with athetoid CP to swallow, chew food, or talk clearly because their facial muscles are affected by dysarthria.
Mixed Cerebral Palsy
A fourth type of cerebral palsy is mixed CP. It is also possible for a person to suffer from multiple forms of CP at the same time. There are also certain symptoms that come with all of the different forms of cerebral palsy. Generally, this condition can adversely affect the victim’s muscle coordination and inhibit their ability to move freely. A person suffering from cerebral palsy often experiences neuromuscular problems, uncontrollable tremors, seizures, diminished muscle tone, coordination problems, vision impairment, hearing impairment, speech difficulties, and problems with thinking and reasoning. In the worst cases, cerebral palsy results in total paralysis of the victim’s muscles.
Medical Negligence and Cerebral Palsy
Although cerebral palsy is characterized by partial or full paralysis of the muscles, the general cause of CP is damage to the developing brain of a fetus, either in utero or during labor and delivery. This is because the brain controls the movement of the muscles. In fact, the vast majority of cerebral palsy cases develop before birth, during birth, or shortly after birth. With the critical role that healthcare provider’s play in successful delivery and medical care of newborns, many cases of cerebral palsy are a direct result of medical malpractice.
Some of the specific causes of cerebral palsy related to medical negligence include:
- Perinatal asphyxia, or lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain in the womb
- Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen during or after labor
- Trauma during labor and delivery
- Failure to recognize signs of fetal distress through fetal monitoring
- Delay in ordering emergency C-section delivery
- Untreated infection such as bacterial meningitis, Group B strep, viral encephalitis during pregnancy
- Failure to test for jaundice or kernicterus
- Failure to diagnose uterine rupture or a prolapsed umbilical cord
- Undiagnosed fetal stroke
- Intracranial hemorrhage caused by misuse of forceps, vacuum or suction during delivery
- Improper use of an epidural needle
- Errors with medication
- Delayed diagnosis after an accident resulting in a head injury or traumatic brain damage
Early diagnosis of CP is important when it comes to preventing more extensive damage and managing the condition. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, CP may be immediately evident, or become apparent over time. Some babies are born with symptoms of brain damage that disappear but may be detected by regular doctor assessments of age-appropriate milestones, like sitting up, walking, and talking. The child’s muscle reflexes may provide information to an examining doctor. In some cases, MRI, CT, and EEG scans may be ordered to check brain formation and seizures. Infants with cerebral palsy may appear stiff or overly floppy, but symptoms have the potential to change, disappear, or arise for the first time over the first few years of a baby’s life. Regardless of the child’s specific symptoms, the necessity for prompt diagnosis remains paramount. When doctors, nurses, or midwives fail to diagnose cerebral palsy in a timely manner, or when medical negligence exacerbates the condition and causes harm to your child, you may have justification for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Contact CP Attorneys in NJ for Help with Your Malpractice Claim
The New Jersey birth injury lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group have the skills and experience necessary to thoroughly investigate your situation, including examining all applicable medical records and interviewing doctors. If you have valid cause for a cerebral palsy lawsuit, we will fight diligently for maximum compensation for your family. Contact our local offices in New Jersey at 973-435-4551 or toll free at 888-409-0816 for a free case evaluation about your particular claim. You can also reach out to us online to schedule an appointment with our team about your potential cerebral palsy lawsuit.
Cerebral Palsy Resources
To learn more about Cerebral Palsy, view the following resources:
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Cerebral Palsy Research
- MedlinePlus Health Information about Cerebral Palsy
- MayoClinic discussion of Cerebral Palsy condition
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Cerebral Palsy Fact Sheet
- Merck Manual Neurological Conditions in Children