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06 February 2015

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is an all-encompassing term for several neurological conditions affecting movement and coordination. Around the ventricles (fluid-filled cavities) in the brain, near to the basal ganglia and cerebellum, there are nerves that control and affect movement.

Damage to this part of the brain or abnormal development before, during or after birth can cause cerebral palsy.

Other parts of the brain may also be affected, which is why some sufferers can experience speech problems, as well as behavioural and learning difficulties.

Although there is no direct cause for every case of cerebral palsy, it can occur due to abnormal foetal brain development, an infection during early pregnancy or possibly be a result of clinical negligence.

Asphyxiation - a deprivation of oxygen to the brain - is more likely to happen during a significant delay in the delivery of a baby under stress. Unfortunately, this is often due to substandard care, despite constant improvements in maternity care over the years.

There are three main types of the condition, but many people have a combination of the three types or only experience its effects in certain parts of the body. This can be termed as either:

  • Hemiplegia, where only one side of the body is affected;

  • Diplegia, where two limbs are affected;

  • Monoplegia, where only one limb is affected; or

  • Quadriplegia, in which all four limbs are affected.

Otherwise, the different types of cerebral palsy are discerned as one of the following:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Due to hypertonia, a term which describes weakness and stiffness of the muscles, movement and control is very difficult for the patient. The condition can be painful, as the muscles often go into spasm.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Also known as choreoathetoid cerebral palsy, athetoid cerebral palsy describes uncontrolled, random writhing movements in the arms and/or legs. Similar to this, although with less frequent outbursts, dystonic cerebral palsy causes persistent involuntary spasms and postures.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy may also be used to describe the sufferance of these abnormal movements, but instead they’re experienced across the whole body, mainly the face, arms, legs and trunk.

These symptoms originate from a fluctuation between hypertonia (stiffness) and hypotonia (floppiness) in muscle tone, therefore causing these uncontrollable muscle contractions.

Ataxic cerebral palsy

Associated with poor balance and coordination, a sufferer of ataxic cerebral palsy may experience jerky or clumsy movements, as well as involuntary tremors in their hands. It is caused by a lack of precise muscular coordination, affecting fine motor skills and gait. Whilst most people with this condition can walk, they may have poor spatial awareness and move unsteadily.

24-hour care and stringent daily routines are often required to look after a child with brain damage. Not only does this put an extra emotional pressure upon the family, but also financial pressure, as accessing treatments to ease the child’s symptoms on top of securing appropriate facilities to improve their quality of life is a costly operation.

If your child has sustained brain injury during birth due to substandard care, and it can be proved that this was the cause of their cerebral palsy, you may be able to make a claim and not only recover the costs of care, but also receive compensation on behalf of your child for the injury they have sustained.

Longden Walker & Renney employ specialist clinical negligence solicitors who have recovered millions of pounds in compensation for children with cerebral palsy. Our experienced and understanding team will endeavour to secure the maximum compensation, including the pursual of interim payments at the first opportunity.

Please feel free to contact us at 0191 5666 500 or request a call back. You will be under no obligation, and will not be charged for our initial advice session.