06 Oct 2020

Clinical Negligence

The facts about cerebral palsy

Today (October 6th 2020) is World Cerebral Palsy Day, an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the 17 million people around the world who are living with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition that is very close to our hearts here at Harding Evans, having supported the Cerebral Palsy Wales (formerly Bobath Cymru) charity for over ten years.

Although CP is the most common physical disability in childhood, there is a broad lack of knowledge of what it is and how it’s caused, even in medical circles.

The organisers of World CP Day aim to build awareness of what cerebral palsy is, how it’s caused and how early detection and intervention is the key to improving outcomes for people with CP. Their vision is to ensure that children and adults with CP have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in society.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is an injury to the brain, causing problems with movement that you see in early childhood. Children with CP often have poor co-ordination, weak muscles and tremors. They can also have problems with sensation, vision, hearing, swallowing and talking.

What causes cerebral palsy?

CP is caused by damage or abnormal development in the parts of the brain that control movement. These can happen before, during or shortly after birth or in the first few years of life, when the brain is still developing.

One of the main causes of cerebral palsy is a hypoxic brain injury during childbirth, where the baby’s brain gets starved of oxygen. Sometimes this cannot be prevented or it is impossible to work out what has caused the baby to be injured, but it is often the result of one of the following things happening during childbirth:

  • Allowing labour to go on for too long
  • Not properly monitoring the baby’s heartbeat
  • Not doing enough cardiotocography (CTG) traces or interpreting them incorrectly
  • The umbilical cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck
  • Delaying a Caesarian section
  • Missing signs of foetal distress, such as meconium

Are all children born with the condition?

The majority of children with cerebral palsy are born with the condition but a small number have what is called acquitted cerebral palsy, which means that the disorder begins more than 28 days after birth, often from infections such as meningitis or encephalitis, problems with blood flow to the brain, such as a stroke, or a head injury from a car accident, fall or child abuse.

What are the early warning signs?

The signs of cerebral palsy usually appear within the first few months of a child’s life but many children are not diagnosed until age 2 or later. The signs to look out for tend to be:

  • Developmental delays in actions such as rolling over, sitting, crawling and walking
  • Abnormal muscle tone, where the child’s body parts are either floppy or too stiff.
  • Abnormal posture, where the child uses one side of the body more than the other when reaching, crawling or moving.

Cerebral palsy facts

1 – There are 17 million people across the world living with cerebral palsy.

2 – Cerebral palsy is a permanent disability that affects movement. Its impact can range from a weakness in one hand to almost a complete lack of voluntary movement.

3 – Cerebral palsy is a complex disability. 1 in 4 children with CP cannot talk, 1 in 4 cannot walk, 1 in 2 have an intellectual disability and 1 in 4 have epilepsy.

4 – CP is a lifelong disability and there is no known cure

Get in touch

Our clinical negligence solicitors at Harding Evans understand the challenges involved in raising a child with cerebral palsy. As well as the obvious emotional impact, a significant amount of essential equipment, assistance with care, education and home adaptations will also be required but all this can help your child to lead a fulfilling life.

We have a wealth of experience in securing settlements for families of children who develop cerebral palsy as a result of injuries sustained during childbirth. If you would like to discuss a claim, please contact us at hello@hevans.com or call 01633 244233.

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