What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder that impacts approximately 17 million people around the world. This condition typically originates from the malformation of the cerebral cortex during fetal development. However, infants can also develop cerebral palsy if they suffer a traumatic brain injury during the birthing process. Parents usually only notice the physical and cognitive symptoms associated with cerebral palsy when their children miss critical developmental milestones, including rolling over, walking, and crawling.
While each case of cerebral palsy is unique, there are specific clinical signs that characterize this disorder, including:
- Poor coordination and balance
- Back pain and spinal deformities
- Improper muscle tone (i.e., hypertonia and dystonia)
- Impaired gross motor functioning
- Underdeveloped or excessive reflexes
- Poor oral motor functioning
By evaluating these symptoms, a doctor can determine if a child’s symptoms classify as ataxic (poor coordination and balance), spastic (jerky movements and stiff muscles), athetoid (writhing movements), or a combination of the above.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 10,000 infants are diagnosed with cerebral palsy on an annual basis. Thousands of these cases are the result of human error and medical malpractice.
The following errors and omissions can lead to cerebral palsy:
- A doctor failed to detect fetal distress during the delivery process
- A provider overlooked a preexisting medical condition due to an administrative error
- A medical professional misinterpreted prenatal test data
- A healthcare provider didn’t detect or test for illnesses and maternal infections
- A mother’s infection didn’t receive prompt diagnosis and treatment
- A medical professional failed to identify a genetic or congenital condition
- A doctor committed a medical error that damaged the baby
- A mother was prescribed harmful drugs or an improper dose of medication
- A healthcare facility provided “improper medical care”
- A provider didn’t refer the mother to a qualified specialist in a timely manner
- A doctor injured the baby with forceps
- A medical team failed to notice eclamptic symptoms in the mother
Time is of the essence when it comes to a cerebral palsy lawsuit. Like most states, Arizona has a statute of limitations that determines when a plaintiff can file a medical malpractice claim. Per Arizona Revised Statutes section 12-542, a parent needs to file a claim “within two years after the cause of action accrues, and not afterward.” In other words, a parent has two years from the date of their child’s diagnoses or two years from the date of discovery.
March Is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month
Despite the worldwide prevalence of this neuromuscular disorder, many people in the United States don’t even know that cerebral palsy exists. Fortunately, in 2005, Reaching for the Stars collaborated with lawmakers to establish March as National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. The purpose of this month-long observance is to spread awareness about cerebral palsy and impart the critical importance of federally-funded research efforts. If you want to participate in this important observance, you can don your favorite shade of green on March 25 and support cerebral palsy awareness.
Schedule a Consultation Today
At Alex & Associates, we are proud to wear green in support of the countless Americans who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. For over 35 years, our Phoenix birth injury lawyers have been championing the rights of infants and children who have been injured by negligent healthcare professionals. By taking legal action, you can recover life-changing compensatory damages that provide for your child’s existing and future medical expenses.
If you have questions about birth injury cases involving cerebral palsy, contact Alex & Associates at (602) 483-6114 to schedule a consultation.