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What Is Spastic Diplegia?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a chronic, debilitating medical condition affecting muscle movement and control. There’s no cure for CP. Individuals with CP may experience muscle spasticity, writhing movements, or difficulty walking or maintaining balance or posture. The most common form of CP is spastic cerebral palsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this type of CP affects about 80% of individuals suffering from the group of motor disorders. Children afflicted with spastic CP can have stiff muscles in the upper or low body or both, affecting one or both sides of the body. 

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Experts believe that cerebral palsy is caused by injury to the brain. If your child is suffering from spastic CP and you believe it’s the result of a brain injury caused by medical negligence or malpractice during birth, a birth injury lawyer can evaluate the facts of your case to see if you’re eligible for compensation. The birth injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti work hard to hold negligent medical practitioners accountable for inflicting unnecessary and preventable harms on newborns and their families. We want to help families impacted by birth injuries heal financially and otherwise for the sake of their child and the family as a whole.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Many medical experts and researchers believe that cerebral palsy is the result of brain injury or problems with the brain. Spastic CP, specifically, happens when the motor cortex is affected. The motor cortex is an area of the brain responsible for planning, controlling, and executing voluntary movements. By generating signals, it can direct various parts of the body to move. When this region of the brain is injured or sustains damage, it impairs the body’s ability to regulate movement.   

  Injuries to the motor cortex in a newborn might happen due to: 

  • Maternal infections or other problems during pregnancy 
  • A stroke occurring in the womb or shortly after birth
  • Jaundice that goes untreated
  • Certain genetic disorders
  • A problem during birth, such as medical malpractice or medical errors (e.g., improper handling of delivery complications or slow response times to fetal distress, resulting in a lack of oxygen to your baby)
  • Shaken baby syndrome
  • Injuries experienced shortly after birth 

Some newborns may be at a higher risk of developing CP than others. These babies include those: 

  • Born premature 
  • Having a low birthweight 
  • Being part of a multiple birth (i.e., twins or triplets)  

How does spastic cerebral palsy affect infants and children?

Cerebral palsy might not affect all infants and children the same. The nature and extent of your child’s condition will depend on the part of the brain affected, how much of the brain is affected, and how severe the injury is. You may become aware of some common signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy early on, such as missed motor and movement milestones. These signs and symptoms might include: 

  • Inability to lift head by appropriate age 
  • Stiffness in muscles and joints 
  • Uncontrolled or jerky movements in limbs
  • Tremors
  • Poor muscle tone or “floppy” limbs
  • Overextended back and neck
  • Inability to bend or straighten joints due to muscle spasticity
  • Stiff legs that cross or scissor when you pick them up
  • Not rolling over in either direction
  • Inability to bring hands together (i.e., unable to clap or grasp objects)
  • Difficulty bringing hands to their mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing or eating
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Reaching with one hand and keeping the other hand fisted
  • Lopsided crawl, pushing off with one hand and leg and dragging the other side of the body
  • Not crawling on all fours but instead scooting on bottom or hopping on knees
  • Cannot stand even when supported
  • Poor balance or an inability to walk
  • Vision and hearing problems
  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Seizures 

If your child is afflicted with spastic CP, their movements may appear jerky, and their muscles will be rigid. Your child may have muscle stiffness in just one hand, an arm (spastic hemiplegia/hemiparesis affecting just one side of the body, more so the arm than the leg), or the legs (spastic diplegia/diparesis), or they may experience a loss of muscle control throughout their entire body (spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis). Some children will require assistance with eating and walking or may need a wheelchair or feeding tube. Other children with spastic CP may require less intervention, depending on the severity of their injury and condition.

Is spastic CP treatable?

There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but there are treatments and interventions available to potentially improve an affected child’s quality of life. Often, the earlier treatment is started, the better the long-term outcome. Your child’s pediatrician and a team of health care providers will work with you to develop a treatment plan that’s right for your child to help them reach their maximum potential. 

  Treatment plans might include: 

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Communication aids
  • Assistive walking devices, such as leg braces, a walker, or a wheelchair
  • Medications to relax the muscles and alleviate pain or to correct seizures
  • Nutritional supplements or a specialized diet to help your child retain nutrients and grow
  • Surgery to help improve movement and correct anatomical abnormalities 

Intervention services might also be available to your child via the national Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). IDEA allows for early intervention and school-aged services for eligible individuals. Even without a CP diagnosis, your child might be able to receive early intervention services offered by IDEA if motor and movement delays are apparent. 

Early intervention services include: 

  • Family training 
  • Counseling 
  • Assistance with service coordination 
  • Home visits
  • Health and nutrition
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
  • Assistive technology devices
  • Hearing loss services 

If your child qualifies, school-aged services are provided at no expense to the parents through the public school system. These services include special education; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; adaptive equipment or supplementary aids; and other special services based on your child’s needs, such as communication systems. An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be developed with your input and input from the school and other professionals involved in your child’s care to focus on goals or milestones specific to your child. 

For more information about CP or access to resources for parents of children with CP, general support, ways to connect with other parents of children with CP and other disabilities, or information regarding your child’s needs and current research, refer to the following: 

Can I recover compensation for my child’s brain injury causing CP?

If a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional caused your child’s brain injury resulting in the development of spastic cerebral palsy, you could potentially sue the negligent provider, hospital, or other birthing facility for your damages or losses. A birth injury attorney can help determine the negligent parties that should be included in a lawsuit. 

Generally, if your lawyer can prove the at-fault practitioner acted negligently before, during, or directly after your child’s birth causing a brain injury and the development of spastic CP, you could receive both economic and non-economic damages for your child’s injury. Economic damages include medical bills, therapy costs, the expense of assistive medical devices and other necessary interventions, prescription medication costs, and lost wages or a loss of income as you transition from a career to a full-time caregiver for your child. 

Non-economic damages may include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, paralysis, emotional distress, or family loss of companionship and support. Rarely, a court may award punitive damages to set an example and issue a warning to the wrongdoer and others similarly situated to not engage in the same wrong or grossly negligent acts. 

The amount of compensation you could receive varies based on several different factors, including: 

  • The nature and extent of the defendant’s liability
  • The severity of the birth injury
  • Current and future medical costs
  • Residential care expenses
  • Necessary home modifications or other services or lifestyle changes to improve your child’s quality of life
  • Loss of income if you need to stay home to care for your child
  • Loss of independence or enjoyment of life for your child
  • Emotional and physical pain and suffering 

Working with a birth injury lawyer is the best choice to maximize your settlement and receive the full amount of compensation you need to care for your injured child throughout their disability or lifetime.  

How can Levin & Perconti help me with my spastic cerebral palsy birth injury case?

The birth injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti can offer significant value during this difficult time. Our lawyers navigate the legal system so that you don’t have to. Instead, you can focus on caring for your child, yourself, and your family, while we get you the maximum compensation you need to cover your expenses related to your child’s injury. 

Our firm and its legal professionals are nationally recognized, with a portfolio of record-setting results attributed to us. Our team of knowledgeable, highly skilled, and reputable lawyers have successfully settled or litigated many substantial birth injury cases. Some of our more notable victories on behalf of our clients include: 

  • $20 million verdict for a child who suffered a brain injury due to the negligence of nurses and residents during labor.
  • $16 million settlement for a child who suffered a brain injury due to negligent nursing and medical care during labor and cesarean section.
  • $14 million verdict for a child who suffered a brain injury due to lack of oxygen during birth.
  • $11.5 million settlement for a child with hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.
  • $9 million settlement for a baby who suffered permanent brain damage as a result of a doctor’s failure to test the mother for Group B Strep Meningitis during prenatal care.
  • $6.5 million for a newborn brain injury due to a lack of competent medical professionals during a neonatal resuscitation.

The statute of limitations or time limit to file a birth injury lawsuit can vary by state and can be impacted by various other factors. For this reason, it’s important to speak with a birth injury attorney as soon as possible after discovering your child’s injury so that you can get the legal advice and assistance needed to proceed with a lawsuit if your circumstances warrant the recovery of fair compensation. Contact the birth injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti today for a free case evaluation.