In honour of World Cerebral Palsy Day, we wanted to provide our readers with some facts about cerebral palsy. At Sommers, Roth & Elmaleh, we regularly represent children, parents, and families who have been affected by cerebral palsy. We are passionate advocates for the condition, and remain committed to increasing knowledge and understanding of what the condition is and how it impacts those who live with it.
Things to Know About Cerebral Palsy
1) Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in children.
2) Cerebral= “of the brain”; Palsy= “lack of muscle control”.
3) Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the developing brain, and can occur during pregnancy, during labour and delivery, at birth, or, in some cases, up until early childhood (due to infection or other trauma to the brain).
4) Birth injuries can be caused by medical malpractice (medical error or negligence).
5) The most common cause of cerebral palsy due to birth injury is oxygen deprivation (also known as hypoxic insult) causing HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy) or NE (neonatal encephalopathy).
6) As a person with cerebral palsy or the parent of a child with cerebral palsy, you may seek damages (i.e. compensation) if you believe a doctor or other medical professional made an error or failed to meet their standard of care causing cerebral palsy.
7) A medical malpractice lawsuit can result in damages awarded to victims and/or their families in recognition of injuries suffered. Damages can be in the tens of millions of dollars, depending on the circumstances.
8) In addition to damages for injuries suffered, victims and/or their families may also be eligible for other compensation including money for equipment, wheelchair vans, home accessibility modifications, and attendant care services.
9) Every person with cerebral palsy is unique, with a wide variety of experiences and symptoms.
10) Some symptoms of cerebral palsy include: difficulty with gross motor skills (e.g. walking), difficulty with fine motor skills (e.g. writing, eating), difficulty speaking, involuntary movements, breathing problems, and poor bladder control.
11) Other conditions associated with cerebral palsy include learning disabilities, global developmental delay, vision impairment, hearing impairment, and seizures.
12) The degree of physical impairment is not an indication of intelligence. The location of the brain injury will determine the type and level of disability and how the movement of the person with cerebral palsy is affected. Some brain injuries will affect cognition (intelligence) and behavior while others will affect motor control.
13) Cerebral palsy can affect motor control on one side of the body and manifest much like a stroke. This is known as “unilateral cerebral palsy” or “hemiplegia”.
14) Cerebral palsy can be “bilateral”, affecting motor control on both sides of the body.
15) Cerebral palsy can also affect lower limb control, with little or no effect on upper limb function. This is known as “diplegia”.
16) “Quadriplegia” or “tetraplegia” refers to cerebral palsy that affects the whole body, including all limbs and the trunk.
17) Motor control problems associated with cerebral palsy include spasticity (reactive reflexes and sensitive muscles); dystonia (variability in muscle tone), athetosis (writhing movements of the limbs and head, instability of the trunk), and ataxia (lack of coordination and unsteadiness of the trunk).
18) Cerebral palsy is not contagious. Cerebral palsy is not hereditary (i.e. cannot be passed down to your children).
19) Cerebral palsy is not life-threatening. Individuals with cerebral palsy have a normal life expectancy.
20) In circumstances where there is a difficult birth (forceps, vacuum, or emergency caesarean section), cerebral palsy is often diagnosed using CAT scans (Computerized Axial Tomography) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) that can identify lesions in the baby’s brain. A child with CP will likely be delayed in reaching their developmental milestones.
21) Cerebral palsy is not progressive, although symptoms may vary throughout a person’s lifetime.
22) It is estimated that one out of every 400 individuals in Canada are diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
23) There are more than 50,000 Canadians with cerebral palsy
24) OHIP and other government benefits, often provided through Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and Community Care Access (CCAC) are rarely sufficient to cover the significant medical and other costs associated with raising a child with cerebral palsy.
25) There are many organizations in Canada that are dedicated to assisting families of children with disabilities including cerebral palsy such as: Provincial Cerebral Palsy Associations, Ontario Federation for Cerebral Palsy, Easter Seals Canada, March of Dimes Canada, The CP Canada Network, The Cerebral Palsy Support Foundation of Canada, etc.
At Sommers, Roth & Elmaleh, our goal is to obtain compensation and financial security for families whose lives have been impacted by cerebral palsy. Over the years, we have won some of the largest medical malpractice awards in Canadian history for our clients. As one of the oldest medical malpractice firms in Toronto, we are well-established and highly respected in the medical malpractice field and have helped clients from all across Canada, including Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec and Newfoundland. We offer contingency fee agreements. Call us at 1-416-961-1212 or contact us online for a free consultation.
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