When a family experiences the birth of a new child, it should be one of the happiest moments of their life. Tragically, many parents suffer the heartbreak of severe injury to their child, which can result in severe emotional and physical hardships that impact the child’s entire life. Many people presume that serious birth injuries are extremely rare, but the United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Foundation estimates that more than 765,000 people in the United States currently live with the challenges of cerebral palsy, and 10,000 more children born each year will develop cerebral palsy.
The relationship between medical malpractice and cerebral palsy
Although cerebral palsy is not exclusively caused by medical malpractice, trauma or injury during child birth or shortly before or after birth may be caused by errors or omissions by a physician or hospital. Many times mistakes by health care professionals cause interruption of oxygen to the brain. This condition — called hypoxia — is a common cause of birth injury related cerebral palsy and may occur because the umbilical cord constricts the baby’s neck. Head trauma during the delivery process or certain drugs also cause cerebral palsy.
Impact of birth injuries causing cerebral palsy and quality of life issues
The debilitating condition of cerebral palsy frequently results from damage suffered to the area of the brain called the cerebrum. Humans use this part of the brain for high-level cognitive tasks, control of limbs (i.e. motor functioning) and sensation. When this area of the brain suffers impairment, it may adversely impact nerve functioning, mobility and posture. Cerebrum damage or injury causes impaired mental functioning in two-thirds of victims.
Training and physical therapy can assist children with cerebral palsy improve coordination and muscle control. Medical studies also have revealed that those who suffer from cerebral palsy can benefit greatly from early intervention that provides occupational, physical and intellectual support services that can boost their quality of life.
The medical cost and supportive care associated with treating cerebral palsy over the course of a lifetime may easily exceed a million dollars. The financial compensation obtained in a medical malpractice lawsuit can provide:
- Accommodations to homes
- Vehicle modifications
- Scooters and wheelchairs
- Special educational and occupational training
- Life skills counseling