CEREBRAL PALSY

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Cerebral palsy (CP) is a lifelong condition which can affect muscular function, including the ability to move, control movements, speak, or swallow. Persons with cerebral palsy often have cognitive impairments and seizures as well. While there are several possible causes of CP, perhaps the most tragic is when an infant is afflicted with CP because of the medical negligence of doctors, nurses, or hospital staff during labor and delivery.

For tragedies like this occurring in central Florida, the Orlando medical malpractice & birth injury attorneys at Hogan P.A. fight to hold the medical professionals accountable and ensure that people living with CP and their caretakers are compensated for the additional costs and hardships which they must face due to medical errors which could have and should have been avoided. Contact our Orlando cerebral palsy attorneys today for exceptional legal advice and representation.

Cerebral Palsy is Characterized as a Permanent Group of Disorders

Cerebral palsy is a permanent group of disorders that causes problems with posture and balance. It is caused by improper brain development or damage to the developing brain. People with cerebral palsy may need special equipment to help them walk or may never be able to walk at all. Like many disorders, the severity of cerebral palsy is on a scale of mild to severe. A person with mild cerebral palsy may need no special equipment to walk at all, but may have a slightly awkward gate. Symptoms can change over a person’s lifetime, however, cerebral palsy does not worsen with time.

People with cerebral palsy sometimes have difficulty thinking, communicating, learning, and feeling. Twenty-eight percent of people with cerebral palsy have epilepsy, 42 percent have vision problems, and 58 percent have difficulties communicating. Somewhere between 23 and 56 percent have a learning disability.

Abnormal muscle tone, motor development, reflexes, and coordination are classifications of cerebral palsy. In addition, there may be bone and joint abnormalities, as well as contractures, which are permanently tight, fixed joints and muscles. Symptoms of cerebral palsy include spasms and involuntary movements such as facial gestures, decreased muscle mass, difficulty walking or balancing, and an unsteady gait. Two gait conditions associated with cerebral palsy include scissor walking, which consists of the knee drastically jutting inwards, and toe walking.

Babies who are born with severe cerebral palsy have an abnormal posture in that they may be either rigid or floppy. Birth defects include a curved spine, small jawbone, or small head. Some babies do not show any signs at first, but may develop them later. Many signs of cerebral palsy start to become evident when the baby begins to be more mobile at the age of six to nine months.

The Complications of Raising a Child with Cerebral Palsy

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. However, the earlier you address and begin to prepare for the life long endeavor of treating cerebral palsy, the better off your child and you will be in the long run. Follow the steps listed below to help reduce the effects of cerebral palsy:

  • Physical therapy improves balance, flexibility, and strength;
  • Speech therapy will improve communication, feeding ability, and swallowing ability;
  • Occupational therapy will help fine tune motor skills and general self care ability;
  • Orthotic support and devices will improve mobility and balance;
  • Hearing and vision devices will improve mobility and the ability to communicate;
  • The appropriate medication will help prevent seizures and help muscle relaxation;
  • Counseling can be essential for behavioral adjustments; and
  • Surgery may be necessary in cases with severe deformities or muscle spasticity (stiffness).

It can be a valuable resource to enlist the help of social services, physical therapists, and visiting nurses and other healthcare professionals. The most important thing is to be proactive, to have the ability to adjust plans, and to be open to new ideas and options. What works for one family may not for another. The more self education you do, the more choices you will have at your disposal for treatments options, as well as the most up to date research.

Having a strong social network, including knowing and learning with local families with children who have cerebral palsy and other disorders can be a crucial tool as well. Above all, it is important to take care of yourself so that you have the emotional and physical energy to provide the best care for you child.

Administrative Claims Process for Neurological Birth Injuries in Florida

The state of Florida has created a system to compensate families for babies born with cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, and other neurological birth injuries such as those caused by hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) or other causes. The Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Act (NICA) allows families to recover benefits without having to file a lawsuit or prove negligence on the part of the doctor or hospital. NICA benefits are intended to cover all lifetime medical costs, which are medically necessary and reasonable, including hospital and rehabilitative expenses, residential custodial care, drugs, equipment, travel, and related expenses. Contact an Orlando cerebral palsy attorney at our office for more information.

In order to recover benefits with a NICA claim, the following factors must apply:

  • The baby was born alive;
  • The baby was born in a hospital;
  • The baby weighed at least 2500 grams (about 5 and one-half pounds) at birth, or 2000 grams for multiple gestations;
  • The baby suffered an injury to the brain or spinal cord caused by oxygen deprivation or mechanical injury;
  • The injury occurred during labor, delivery, or resuscitation immediately after birth;
  • The injury included severe and permanent physical and mental impairments or death; and
  • The delivery involved a participating physician, meaning basically that the obstetrician who attended the delivery was a member of NICA at the time of delivery.

Benefit for Families or Protection for Doctors and Hospitals?

While NICA may seem like a system that was created to compensate injured infants and their families, critics would say that it was created to shield doctors, hospitals and their insurance companies from the full impact of their liability for the suffering they have caused. Recovery under an administrative NICA claim is likely to be far less than one might receive if allowed to take the case to a jury, where it is possible to receive compensation for pain and suffering as well as medical expenses.

Help is Available for Cerebral Palsy and Complicated Birth Injury Claims in Florida

A NICA claim must be filed within five years of birth, compared to a medical malpractice claim which must be filed anywhere from two to eight years following birth. It can be a complicated matter to know which law or laws apply in a given situation, and pursuing the wrong course can be disastrous to your claim, leaving you without any way to obtain compensation for your child’s injuries. If your child was born with cerebral palsy or another neurological birth injury, we know that you are dealing with emotional challenges and financial hardships on a daily basis. The Orlando cerebral palsy attorneys at Hogan P.A. are here to help you by identifying the available sources of compensation and helping you obtain the maximum value of your claim. In Orlando and throughout central Florida, call (407) 377-0700 for assistance.