Cerebral Palsy

Advocating for Cerebral Palsy Victims, New Jersey

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Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of neurological chronic disorders affecting body movements and muscle coordination. It is caused by damage to the brain. “Cerebral” refers to the brain and “palsy” to a disorder of movement or posture. Children with cerebral palsy may not be able to walk, talk, eat or play in the same ways as most other children.

Notably, cerebral palsy is also caused by events that occur shortly before, during and after birth. In many cases, cerebral palsy resulting from the cutoff of blood supply to the brain is medically preventable and was caused by negligence on the part of obstetricians, nurses or other medical care providers. Our NJ birth injury lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP, regularly represent parents of babies born with cerebral palsy resulting from physician negligence or mistakes made in the delivery room.

Recognized Among the Pre-Eminent New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers

We are familiar with the medically complex, but frequently frivolous, defenses used by defendant physicians, their insurance companies and their attorneys. We are proud of our record of protecting the rights of families impacted by babies born with cerebral palsy that could have been prevented by competent medical care. Our case history includes individual cases in which we have recovered more than $10 million on behalf of our clients — compensation the families will need for a lifetime of special care required by the children and to keep these children safe throughout their lifetime.

Symptoms and Types of Cerebral Palsy

Symptoms of cerebral palsy often surface during the newborn period. In those cases, parents are typically aware of the disorder because the baby requires intensive medical care such as breathing and feeding assistance. Further indicators of cerebral palsy include difficulty eating, holding one’s head upright, and maintaining posture. Milder forms of cerebral palsy may present as simply a developmental delay.

Doctors will check babies’ reflexes and motor skills, birth records, and parents’ medical history to diagnose cerebral palsy. Symptoms of cerebral palsy include speech impediments, abnormal sensation and perception, vision, hearing, breathing and bladder control problems, and learning disabilities. Three of the most common types of cerebral palsy are:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy: This type accounts for about 80 percent of all cerebral palsy cases, making it the most common type of cerebral palsy. It causes permanently contracted and stiff muscles. Motor function is reduced and patients experience difficulties moving from one position to another and holding and releasing objects.
  • Athetoid Cerebral Palsy: Approximately 10 percent of cerebral palsy cases are athetoid cerebral palsy, which causes hypotonia–low muscle tone, involuntary movement, impaired posture, slurred speech, and difficulty swallowing.
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy: This type also accounts for about 10 percent of cerebral palsy cases. Those suffering from ataxic cerebral palsy may have trouble balancing and making coordinated muscle movements, tremors, and difficulty with depth perception.

There are several known causes of cerebral palsy, including infectious diseases, such as bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis, that attack the brain, and also brain trauma from accidents where a head injury was sustained. Cerebral palsy is frequently caused when obstetricians and/or nurses fail to properly monitor the well-being of the fetus during a mother’s labor and delivery. They may fail to recognize and/or treat fetal distress apparent on electronic fetal monitoring equipment. Such failures are departures from the standard of care and could result in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain during the labor, often referred to as hypoxia. The term most often refers to a brain injury sustained by newborns, and babies with HIE will frequently have cerebral palsy.

Cerebral Palsy Caused by Medical Malpractice

Cerebral palsy often manifests due to a medical mistake during pregnancy or birth, such as the umbilical cord wrapping around the baby’s neck or the application of excessive pressure on the baby’s head or neck during delivery. Medical professionals may also fail to detect or treat the mother’s infections, correctly monitor fetal heart rate, detect a prolapsed umbilical cord, or perform a caesarean section in time. In cases wherein a medical professional fails to provide a standard of care, a medical malpractice lawsuit against the negligent doctor or hospital can provide compensation for victims and accountability for those responsible.

Misdiagnosis of the Mother’s Medical Condition During Pregnancy

Cerebral palsy may also be caused when medical care providers fail to timely diagnose and treat infectious diseases such as meningitis or jaundice (hyperbilirubinemia). Delays in diagnosing and treating these conditions may result in brain damage and cerebral palsy, including conditions such as:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Intracranial bleeding or hemorrhage
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome
  • Pulmonary hypotension

Contact the Experienced New Jersey Birth Injury Lawyers at Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP

From offices in Edison, Red Bank and Toms River, our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers advise and represent clients in medical malpractice and personal injury litigation matters throughout New Jersey. From wherever you are, call our office at 732-777-0100 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with an experienced NJ med mal lawyer at an office nearest to you.