Parent’s Guide to Cerebral Palsy: Oregon Birth Injury Lawyers

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Our Oregon Birth Injury Lawyers Share the Parent’s Guide to Cerebral Palsy

One of the most devastating diagnosis that a parent could hear from a healthcare provider is that their child has cerebral palsy. While this is definitely a very troubling piece of information for all parents, it is important to realize that their child has survived what may have been a very difficult labor and delivery or birthing process. When parents hear the diagnosis of cerebral palsy or CP the first thing that naturally comes to their mind are endless strings of questions. This is because most people do not know much about cerebral palsy until they have a family member or child diagnosed with it. Our Oregon birth injury lawyers realize that and over the years have compiled a list of common answers for common questions in our parent’s guide to cerebral palsy. 

We have developed our parent’s guide to cerebral palsy from our experience handling cases. It is important to first note that this guide cannot be interpreted as medical advice because we are not a doctor nor are we licensed to practice medicine in any state or to give any medical advice. Therefore, if you are looking for medical device or from medical health you should contact your primary care physician or other provider. However, if you are looking for basic information about cerebral palsy you are in the right place. Our Oregon birth injury lawyers have drafted this parent’s guide to cerebral palsy to help answer as many common questions as we can. As such, families should use this guide to help them get a better understanding of what medical and legal issues they may be confronting.

Reality of Cerebral Palsy: What is Cerebral Palsy?

The very first question that many parents have is a very basic question: what is cerebral palsy? We find this question to be completely understandable because we find most parents who have a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy have never experienced or possibly even met someone with cerebral palsy. Or at least that is what they think! The first bit of solace that a parent with a child just diagnosed with cerebral palsy should have is that there are many Americans with cerebral palsy and most other people around them at store, work, or school do not even realize it. Yes, there are some severe cases of cerebral palsy which is what you may find on the news, in movies, or in other literature that you may find online.  However, this is not always accurate and this is not always a true reflection of what many cerebral palsy cases are like.

Medically, the CDC defines cerebral palsy as the following:

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. CP is the most common motor disability in childhood. Cerebral means having to do with the brain. Palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles. CP is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles.

In layperson’s terms, cerebral palsy is a disorder which causes movement issues due to muscle weakness or brain function controlling those muscles. This means that individuals who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy may have difficulty performing any type of voluntary movement. This also means that individuals who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy may also have in voluntary movement issues and disorders including shakes or tremors.

Prevalence of Cerebral Palsy

Also according to the CDC and its statistics, cerebral policy is the most common motor disability in childhood which occurs in about 1 out of every 323 births. This makes cerebral palsy, where at least some form of cerebral palsy, quite common. It is important to realize, however, that almost 60% of all children with cerebral palsy can walk independently. This is why most people do not even realize how prevalent is cerebral palsy actually is in our communities. As a parent who has a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy, this should make you and your family feel a little better—especially if your child has a very mild case of cerebral palsy.

How Does Cerebral Palsy Form?

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain. The damage to the brain results and lesions to the brain. This damage the brain is also caused while in utero, during labor and delivery, or right after birth when the brain is rapidly and aggressively developing. When the brain sustains any type of damage causing lesions, the lesions form gaps of scar tissue in the brain. These gaps and in the brain will not develop into what they’re supposed to develop into. As a result, this is what creates some dysfunction. 

With cerebral palsy, most of the damage is focused on the basal ganglia or cerebellum in the brain. These two shock shirts are what govern motor movement. Depending on the location of the damage and the extent of the damage, as well as damage to other parts of the brain which are related to movement and voluntary or involuntary control, different types of cerebral palsy may manifest themselves.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

There are four general types of cerebral palsy. Each type of cerebral palsy has different types of subsets. Our Oregon birth injury lawyers have created this parent’s guide to cerebral palsy to cover the four main types of cerebral palsy and the one most common subset. This is not meant to be an extensive list and there are many other subsets and different types of cerebral palsy that a child maybe diagnosed with. However, these for common types and the one most common subtype will cover more than 95% of the types of cerebral palsy.

The type of cerebral palsy and the type of subset depend on the location of the damage to the brain and the severity of the damage. The different types of cerebral palsy are following:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy – This type of cerebral palsy is the most common at about 80% of all causes being this type of CP. The damage to the brain that causes spastic cerebral palsy as to the motor cortex which governs voluntary movement.  There may also be damage to the pyramidal tract which is what sends messages to muscles.  The most common symptoms include the following:

  • Stiffness to one side of the body
  • Abnormal reflexes
  • Permanently tightened muscles or joints
  • Hypertonia or overdeveloped muscles
  • Abnormal gait
  • Exaggerated movements
  • Rigid and stiff, and
  • Other common symptoms.

SUBSET of Spastic Cerebral Palsy: Diplegic Cerebral Palsy: This subset could affect anywhere on the body, but generally occurs in the lower extremities such as a person’s legs. This means that a person’s legs could be extremely stiff due to increased muscle tone and rigid joints. Therefore, a person may have trouble walking, running, climbing stairs, or performing other movements. A person may also have trouble sitting down or laying down.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy – This is the next most common type of cerebral palsy which is caused extensively by damage to the basal ganglia and cerebellum. These two structures in the brain are what suffer the most damage. This type of cerebral palsy is very difficult because it can result in a cycling or fluctuation in muscle shape and form.  Since this type of CP could result in hypertonia or increased muscle, or hypotonia or flaccid muscles, this makes treating and managing this type of cerebral palsy very difficult because an individual’s needs may constantly change.  Some of the most common symptoms include the following:

  • Very stiff and rigid then very soft and loose
  • Trouble sitting down, standing, walking, or moving
  • Issues with posture
  • Problems eating, drinking, or performing basic task including hygiene
  • Coordination and balance problems, and
  • Many other symptoms.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – This is a rarer type of CP which generally affects how a person can balance or coordinate movement. The damage to the brain is centralized on the cerebellum. Due to this extensive damage, an individual with this type of cerebral palsy may have uncontrollable tremors and shaking. Individuals may also have hypotonia and difficulty speaking or eating. Sometimes this type of cerebral palsy will also cause vision problems.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy – A person with mixed cerebral palsy may have a combination any any of these types of cerebral palsy work any other type of subset. This is due to the areas of the brain and how they respond to each other. Therefore, mixed cerebral palsy occurs when multiple different types of cerebral palsy manifest themselves at random times. This can create issues with treatment and care because of a person’s changing needs.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

There are many causes of cerebral palsy. Generally, the most common cause of cerebral palsy is a hypoxic or anoxic injury.  A hypoxic injury is a decrease or insufficiency in the amount of oxygen.  An anoxic injury is a complete cessation of oxygen. It is this decrease or lack of oxygen that causes lesions in the developing brain which may form cerebral palsy. Indeed, oxygen deprivation issues are the most common medical clause of cerebral palsy.

Some of the most common conditions resulting in cerebral palsy include the following:

  • Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy – this is a very severe condition that causes brain damage due to a lack of oxygenated blood flow to the brain. This can be caused by many different things including Oregon medical malpractice such as overuse of extraction tools, delays in performing a c-section, or other reckless mistakes.
  • Kernicterus – this condition results in an increase of bilirubin in the blood for a prolonged period of time that it becomes caustic.  Bilirubin is what must be removed from the blood by the kidneys and liver.  Babies appear yellow at birth with jaundice because their organs are just starting to work fully themselves.  While some jaundice is normal, when that jaundice lasts for too long it can become damaging and poison the blood.  That is what Kernicterus is and it can poison the brain.  This can create lesions in the brain which result in CP.
  • Gestational Diabetes – this is a form of diabetes which develops during pregnancy and can be very dangerous because a baby will generally grow larger in the womb. Due to this, a baby may have difficulty going through the birth canal. This can result in a prolonged labor which places undue stress on the baby, particularly the baby’s head and brain.
  • Overuse of Pitocin – Pitocin is a synthetic drug that is meant to act like a natural hormone that the mother’s body produces.  This powerful hormone is Oxytocin. This hormone is what helps cause contractions.  However, sometimes a mother’s body does not produce enough of this hormone or doctors want to quicken the contractions. Therefore, Pitocin is administered to a mother and gradually increased in hopes of producing more productive contractions to deliver the baby.
  • Medical malpractice – many forms of medical malpractice could cause cerebral palsy (see below).

Oregon Medical Malpractice Causing Cerebral Palsy

While cerebral palsy could because by natural complications or genetics, unfortunately many instances of cerebral palsy are caused by preventable medical errors. This means that Oregon medical malpractice is a primary cause or at least a possible cause of cerebral palsy. There are many instances where Oregon medical malpractice could result in cerebral palsy.  Some of the most common include the following: 

  • Delays in performing a c-section
  • Excessive use of extraction tools
  • Failing to treat and umbilical cord prolapse
  • Overdosing on Pitocin
  • Failing to react to excessive contractions
  • Head injuries to the baby
  • Failing to identify and treat umbilical cord rupture
  • Failing to monitor for fetal distress
  • Negligent hiring or inadequate supervision
  • Delays in starting airway therapy
  • Failing to stop the bleeding for a baby
  • Improper handling of a baby
  • Medication overdoses, and 
  • Many other common causes.

Lifetime Costs of Cerebral Palsy

The lifetime costs of cerebral palsy are massive.  According to the CDC and adjusted for inflation, the lifetime costs of a child with cerebral palsy is over $1.3 million.  The CDC also found that children with cerebral palsy had 10 times the medical bills than children without cerebral palsy.  Some of the most common expenses for cerebral palsy include the following:

  • Nursing care, sometimes at home nursing care—especially when older
  • Physical therapy
  • Medical equipment
  • Medication
  • Surgeries
  • Occupational therapy
  • Braces and walking assistance devices
  • Special education classes, tutors, or programs
  • Speech therapy
  • Special modifications to a vehicle or houses including ramps or lifts
  • Vocational training
  • Babysitters, who are required to have some adequate skills such as nurses or healthcare providers
  • Reconstructive surgery, and
  • Many other expenses.

How Our Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyer Can Help

This is a large parent’s guide to cerebral palsy by our Oregon medical malpractice lawyers. There is a lot of information here, but there is even more information on cerebral palsy. At our law firm, we know that parents will still have questions about cerebral palsy. This is why we offer free consultations and do not charge any money upfront for us to begin representing or investigating your claim. Rather, we accept cases on a contingency fee basis which means you only pay us once we recover compensation in a settlement or for recovery for you. This means that there is no risk for you and your love ones to ask us two look into what happened to your child.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed as a result of medical malpractice contact the Oregon Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Kuhlman Law at our number below or fill out the intake form.  We offer a free initial case evaluation and handle cases on a contingency fee which means that you pay no money unless we recover. 

Our law firm handles cases throughout the state including Bend and Portland Oregon, Redmond, Central Oregon, Sisters, Madras, Multnomah County, Deschutes County, Salem, Eugene, Corvallis, Lane County, Medford, Gresham, La Grande, Albany, Medford, Beaverton, Umatilla, Pendleton,  Cottage Grove, Florence, Oregon City, Springfield, Keizer, Grants Pass, McMinnville, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Wilsonville, Newberg, Roseburg, Lake Oswego, Klamath Falls, Happy Valley, Tigard, Ashland, Milwakie, Coos Bay, The Dalles,  St. Helens, Sherwood, Central Point, Canby, Troutdale, Hermiston, Silverton, Hood River, Newport, Prineville, Astoria, Tillamook, Lincoln City, Hillsboro, and Vancouver, Washington.  

We also have an office in Minneapolis, Minnesota and take medical malpractice cases throughout the Twin Cities, including St. Paul, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Dakota County, Washington County, Anoka County, Scott County, Blaine, Stillwater, and Saint Paul Minnesota.  

Please act quickly, there is a limited time (Statute of Limitations) in which you can bring a claim under the law.

For a free case evaluation


(541) 385-1999 in Bend, Oregon
(503) 479-3646 in Portland, Oregon
(612) 444-3374 in Minnesota

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