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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy An Overview

Having a child with Cerebral Palsy can involve major changes to your family life, it is life altering for your child, you and the rest of your family.

It is estimated that between 1 in 400 and 1 in 500 children in the UK are born with, or later develop, Cerebral Palsy, this is roughly 2% of the children born each year.

Cerebral Palsy is a general term that is used to describe a number of neurological conditions that develop before, during or shortly after delivery. The conditions can affect the child’s brain, movement and co-ordination.

The severity of the symptoms will vary from child to child and will depend on the type of Cerebral Palsy the child develops, they can range from relatively minor where only family and close friends may notice to debilitating disability that leaves the child requiring 24 hour care.

Whilst Cerebral Palsy is not a progressive condition, in other words the brain damage does not get worse, it is a long term condition that can put a great deal of stress on the body.

If your child has Cerebral Palsy and you believe that a medical professional may be at fault then you should consider making a claim for compensation. Your child may be entitled to significant damages which will allow for specialised equipment, house alterations etc. These damages will not just reflect your child’s current needs but will account for potential future needs and costs.

Please click here, fill in our enquiry form on this page or telephone us on 01244 659404 or 0800 0857777.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is the result of an injury to the brain, this injury can occur during pregnancy. There a number of possible reasons; these may be genetic or unavoidable but in some cases may be attributed to the mismanagement of the pregnancy, for instance the failure to diagnose and treat an infection in either the mother or the baby during pregnancy.

A child may sustain brain damage during delivery, caused by lack of oxygen, and it is estimated that about 10% of children with Cerebral Palsy develop the disorder at this time. Again there a number of reasons why the baby may be starved of oxygen at birth but it is important that all the medical records are reviewed by a medical expert to establish whether the delivery was managed properly and in accordance with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

On rare occasions the brain injury may occur after delivery, usually with the first few months, and can be the result of an infection, such as meningitis. Again if there have been delays in diagnosing the infection which lead to the development of Cerebral Palsy then the matter should be investigated.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

There are 3 main types of Cerebral Palsy

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

This is characterised by weakness and stiffness in the muscles and is the most commonly found type. It can be subdivided into a number of further categories

Spastic Hemiplegia

The muscles will be stiff on one side of the body only and quite often only affects the arm

Spastic Diplegia

The muscles in the child’s legs will be stiff making it difficult to walk and generally mobilise

Spastic Quadriplegia

The child will have stiffness in all four limbs and will usually be unable to walk. There may be weakness in the neck muscles making it difficult for the child to support their head.

Dyskinetic or Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

This form of Cerebral Palsy effects the muscle control of the child. They may suffer with spontaneous movements as their muscles tense and relax.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

The child will have problems with balance and co-ordination and they may have shaky or jerky movements with their hands and difficulty with speech.

In addition to the three types of Cerebral Palsy listed here there is also a fourth category known as

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

This is where the child has symptoms from two or more of the main types of Cerebral Palsy.

Treatment

There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy as the damage to the brain cannot be repaired but there are a lot of treatments, therapy and equipment available to improve the quality of life.

Most children diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy will be referred for physiotherapy. It is the starting point for most treatment plans and will help your child maintain muscle strength and length to avoid any deterioration in their range of movement. In addition by stretching the muscles they will more likely develop and grow as fast as your child’s bones.

If the physiotherapy does not help with the stiffness and your child is still in discomfort or is stopped from performing everyday tasks then medication will be considered to relax the muscles.

Surgery can also be considered as an option to help lengthen muscles and tendons to aid your child’s range of movement.

In some cases a referral may be made to a speech therapist in order to improve the child’s ability to communicate more clearly or to find alternative ways to in which they can communicate.

There will be a team of specialists who, depending on the child’s condition, will be involved in their treatment from the moment they are diagnosed through into their adult life.

Additionally there is equipment that can help a child with Cerebral Palsy; there are specialised walking frames, wheelchairs, bath chairs, communication devices etc that will all improve their quality of life.

Medical Negligence – Making a Claim

Bringing any sort of claim for injury or medical negligence can seem overwhelming at times, added to that caring for a child with Cerebral Palsy can take up a lot of your time and energy leaving you to wonder if bringing a claim is worth it.

However, if your child develops Cerebral Palsy and you feel that your health care provider may be at fault then it is vital that you give proper consideration to seeking advice from a specialist law firm.

A successful claim can be awarded significant damages as any sum received needs to take in to account not just your child’s current requirements but also the potential costs of their care over their lifetime. This will cover not just potential medical costs for things such as physiotherapy but will also take account of any specialised equipment that may make life easier for your child and also possibly housing costs for your child and their family.

It is therefore important that you seek advice from a specialist law firm who has experience of dealing with the complexities of bringing a Cerebral Palsy claim. At The Roland Partnership we are able to offer unparalleled experience and expert knowledge when dealing with Cerebral Palsy claims. We can offer support and advice through every step of the claim and beyond to make the process less stressful for the child and their family.

In the majority of Cerebral Palsy claims we can apply for Legal Aid funding, from the Legal Aid Agency. The Roland Partnership is one of the few firms in England and Wales authorised to apply for Legal Aid Funding for a Clinical Negligence case on your behalf.

As with all clinical negligence claims there is a time limit set out, this is known as Limitation Period, the general rule is that Court proceedings for medical negligence must be commenced by lodging certain documents at Court within 3 years from when you knew, or could reasonably have known that you have suffered injury as a result of the fault of another.

The rule differs slightly where the Claimant is a child, as is the case with the majority of Cerebral Palsy claims. In this case the 3 year period does not begin to run until the child has reached their 18th birthday. Court proceedings must be commenced within 3 years of a Claimant’s 18th birthday i.e. before their 21st birthday.

If your child is over 21 but does not have mental capacity then there are very complex rules but, in general terms, if your child is unable to understand the nature of the legal proceedings, including the giving of instructions and understanding advice received, then it is likely that any claim will not be time barred due to expiration of the Limitation Period

Having successfully settled your claim we can continue to assist you. We work with the Court of Protection and can provide Deputies when required, we also work closely with case managers when asked to to ensure that the child and family continue to receive support. We know that our involvement with your case does not necessarily stop when the case is won, we will be able to help you as long as you need, or want, us to.

We offer you a free, no obligation discussion regarding your child’s potential claim. We will discuss with you the merits of the claim, review any documentation you have and help you make the Legal Aid application without any cost to yourselves.

Please complete our enquiry form, click here or contact us on 01244 659404 or 0800 0857777.

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Testimonials

Mr L received £2,100,000 after suffering cerebal palsy as a result of medical negligence. The first liability expert had advised there was no breach of duty of care, so the case was passed on to The Roland Partnership's eminent causation expert. The defendants vigorously denied liability and The Roland Partnership's expert said it was one of the most difficult cases he had dealt with. The claim was settled shortly before trial.

An eight year old boy received £1,500,000 through The Roland Partnership after receiving serious injuries whilst waiting at a bus stop. Two cars crashed into the bus stop, causing it to collapse onto him, leaving him with personality changes and weakness on one side.

Mrs M was knocked down by a car when crossing a road. She was partly responsible for the accident, having run out into the road without first checking it was safe to do so. Nevertheless, she received over £1,100,000 after representation by The Roland Partnership.