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World Cerebral Palsy Day: 6th October
Yesterday was World Cerebral Palsy Day (6th October) - a day in which people from all over the world come together to help raise awareness of cerebral palsy (CP) and the issues that affect the 17 million people across the world who live with the condition. Through increasing awareness, we can work towards ensuring that children and adults with CP have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition caused by problems affecting the part of the brain that controls muscle tone, movement and motor skills. The life-long disability, for which there is no known cure, affects an estimated one in 4,000 people in the UK.
CP generally occurs when the brain develops abnormally before, during or shortly after birth, and it can occur as a result of complications during pregnancy or the birth process, which leads to damage to the brain due to lack of oxygen (hypoxia).
A total of 350 million people are closely connected to a child or adult with CP and, according to worldcpday.org, it is the most common physical disability in childhood.
To determine whether a child may have suffered a brain injury during the birth process, every newborn baby is assessed at birth and given an Apgar score. You can find out more on this topic through our dedicated Apgar score glossary page.
What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?
In many cases, the condition is not diagnosed immediately. Often, further investigation is only prompted by the parents’ instincts, or their anxiety that their baby is not developing healthily. Symptoms of cerebral palsy include:
- Muscle stiffness or floppiness
- Muscle weakness
- Random and uncontrolled body movements
- Balance and coordination problems
These symptoms usually become apparent during the first three years of a child's life, and can vary from person to person. The severity of the symptoms often differs, with some only experiencing mild problems, while others are left severely disabled.
The condition can also lead to a range of associated medical problems, including:
- Difficulty speaking
- Hearing loss
- Visual impairment
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD)
- Seizures or fits (epilepsy)
- Drooling and swallowing difficulties (dysphagia)
- Hip dislocation or an abnormally curved spine (scoliosis)
- Bladder control problems (urinary incontinence)
- Learning difficulties (although intelligence is often unaffected)
How can medical negligence lead to cerebral palsy?
The most common examples of clinical negligence in the cerebral palsy cases we deal with here at Potter Rees Dolan include:
- Delays in diagnosing or misdiagnosis of infections in the mother during pregnancy
- Delays in diagnosing or misdiagnosis of bleeding in the baby’s brain
- Poor antenatal care including failure to identify fetal growth restriction
- Poor monitoring of the foetus during labour or misinterpretation of a CTG trace, leading to delay in delivery that deprives the foetus of oxygen
- Incorrect use of forceps and/or a failure to perform a caesarean section
- Negligence in the neonatal period relating to monitoring and treatment of neonatal infection, jaundice or hypoglycaemia
If negligent medical care before, during or after birth led to your child developing cerebral palsy, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation.
If mistakes made by midwives or doctors led to your child developing cerebral palsy, whether due to problems in antenatal care, birth injuries or problems in the neonatal period, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation.
Potter Rees Dolan’s team of specialist solicitors are here to help and we will strive to get you the compensation you deserve, because we see first-hand how big a difference it can make to a family’s quality of life.
Gill Edwards is a member of Baby Lifeline’s Multi-Professional Advisory Panel and is a Partner within the Clinical Negligence team here at Potter Rees Dolan. Gill comments:
Many families who are having to rely on over-stretched NHS and social care resources are, unfortunately, struggling to cope. Compensation can help you adapt your home for your child’s requirements, access 24/7 professional care, afford specialist equipment and give you peace of mind for the future, relieving the burden on you and your family.
Our renowned Clinical Negligence team includes Helen Dolan, Helen Budge, Lesley Herbertson and Gill Edwards, who have more than 60 years of experience between them and all feature in the prestigious Legal 500 and Chambers guides. The team offers a highly personal service, striving to give their clients a voice when things have gone wrong and maintaining a strong commitment to improving standards in healthcare.
Take a look at some of our case studies below and see how we have helped secure vital funds for numerous families of children with CP:
Over £11 million in compensation for baby with cerebral palsy
Medical failings during Anna's birth resulted in severe brain damage and life-changing injuries. After several years undertaking complex investigation to determine the full value of Anna’s claim, a Part 36 offer was accepted in March 2016 for the sum of £11.7 million (gross). Read more here.
£10.6 million agreed for young boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy
Baby boy was delivered an hour after he should have which left him with catastrophic disabilities. Lesley Herbertson put in place specialist reports to identify all of Thomas’ need and has settled Thomas’ claim for an amount equivalent to £10,600,000. This money will enable Thomas to enjoy the best quality of life that he is able and will allow him access to the therapies and care he needs. Read more here.