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What Is Cerebral Palsy?

New York Birth Injury Attorney | New York| Law Office of Dimitrios Kourouklis, Ph.D.

According to the CDC, cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move, maintain balance and posture. Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in childhood. Cerebral means having to do with the brain. Palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles. Cerebral Palsy is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles.

Children who have cerebral palsy may exhibit numerous symptoms, including:

  • Lack of muscle coordination

  • Tight or stiff muscles

  • Differences in muscle tone

  • Weakness in the arms or legs

  • Shaking or other involuntary movements

  • Difficulty with precise movements such as writing

  • Difficulty with swallowing or speaking

  • Abnormal reflexes

There are several types of cerebral palsy that are characterized by the location of the brain injury. The symptoms for cerebral palsy can vary depending on where and how badly the brain was damaged.

The types of cerebral palsy include:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy: This is most common type of cerebral palsy, caused by damage to the motor cortex or pyramidal tracts and characterized by tight muscles and jerking movements. According to the CDC, this type of cerebral palsy accounts for 80% of the cerebral palsy cases. People with spastic cerebral palsy have increased muscle tone, which means that their muscles are stiff and, as a result, their movements can be awkward.

  • Ataxic cerebral palsy: This type is caused by cerebellum damage resulting in issues with motor control, balance, and movement. People with ataxic cerebral might be unsteady when they are walking. They may also have a difficult time with quick movements or movements that need a lot of body control. They might have a hard time controlling their hands or arms when they reach for something.

  • Athetoid/dyskinetic cerebral palsy: This type is caused by damage to the basal ganglia and/or cerebellum. People with dyskinetic cerebral palsy have problems controlling the movement of their hands, arms, feet, and legs, which can make it very difficult to sit and walk. The movements are uncontrollable and can be slow and writhing or rapid and jerky. In some instances the face and tongue are affected and the person has a hard time sucking, swallowing, and talking.

  • Mixed cerebral palsy: This type of cerebral palsy occurs within a person who suffers from more than one type of cerebral palsy.

  • Hypotonic cerebral palsy: This is a rare type of cerebral palsy that is caused by cerebellum damage. This type of cerebral palsy is characterized by floppy muscles, excess flexibility, and poor mobility.

Causes Of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the fetal or infant brain.

  • The most common causes for cerebral palsy include:

  • Bacterial and viral infections such as meningitis

  • Bleeding in the brain (hemorrhaging)

  • Head injuries sustained during birth or within the first few years of infancy

  • Lack of oxygen to the brain (asphyxia) before, during, or after birth

Cerebral Palsy As A Result of Medical Malpractice

Some children develop cerebral palsy as the result of a birth injury caused by medical malpractice or negligence. Below are some of the common causes of cerebral palsy as a result of medical malpractice:

  • Avoidable birth complications - Oxygen deprivation is often considered the primary cause of cerebral palsy. This can happen because of complications during childbirth, such as uterine rupture or umbilical cord prolapse. The use of too much force during delivery or improper use of birth tools can also cause cerebral palsy.

  • Failure to perform a Cesarean section - A Cesarean section is a common surgery used to deliver a child when natural childbirth could endanger the mother and/or child. Roughly one quarter of all births result in a Cesarean section. This procedure is performed in instances where the baby is presenting in an abnormal position or expressing fetal distress, or when there is not enough room for the baby to go through the birth canal. The medical professionals who are delivering your baby should be able to take quick action to perform a Cesarean section when then need for one rises. The failure to timely performs a Cesarean section may result in serious birth injury to the child, including brain damage and cerebral palsy due to oxygen deprivation.

  • Delayed Cesarean section - Proper fetal monitoring can reveal indications of fetal distress, which can lead to brain damage and cerebral palsy. This may be avoided by a Cesarean section, and the delivering physician needs to consider using it.

  • Lack of emergency preparedness in the delivery room - Hospitals and doctors are required to maintain adequate procedures to handle emergencies during the care of the mother and/or delivery of the baby. In the event something drastic or unexpected occurs, permanent brain damage leading to cerebral palsy may result.

  • Failure to detect early warning signs - Genetics and environmental factors can lead to abnormal brain development, which in turn can cause cerebral palsy. However, there are screening methods a physician can use to detect these and other warning signs.

  • Post-birth complications - These include brain trauma, infections, oxygen deprivation, and more. A physician or nurse who fails to properly monitor a child could be liable for such problems.

Cerebral palsy is birth injury that is not reversible. This condition will likely endure for a lifetime of the child. Dealing with a child who has cerebral palsy is very difficult on a family both mentally and financially. Families will likely incur significant medical expenses for treatment and other adaptations to assist the injured child with daily activities. A New York Birth Injury Attorney can assist you with your birth injury claim.

Altogether, a birth injury claim can recover compensation for:

  • Medical costs of a child and a mother’s injuries

  • Future medical expenses, including long-term care for a child’s injuries (which includes enrolling in New York State Medical Indemnity Fund), medical equipment, modifications to a home and vehicle, physical and cognitive therapy, and other expenses

  • A Life Care Plan

  • Lost wages of the parents, if they have to take time off work to take care of the child

  • Lost earning potential of the child

  • Pain and suffering of the child

  • Mental anguish of the child

  • Loss of enjoyment of life

  • Disability

Law Office Of Dimitrios Kourouklis, Ph.D.

New York Birth Injury Attorneys

If you believe your child's birth injury was the result of medical malpractice, please contact our firm to discuss your case. The New York Birth Injury attorneys at the Law Office of Dimitrios Kourouklis Ph.D. are dedicated to helping children and their families affected by medical negligence recover for their losses. To schedule a free consultation with one of our New York Birth Injury attorneys, call the Law Office of Dimitrios Kourouklis today at (929) 400-7608. If you would prefer to reach us via email, you can email us at or fill out our online contact form.

Law Office of Dimitrios Kourouklis, Ph.D.

19 West 21st Street, Suite 402

New York, New York 10010

(929) 400-7608


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