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Cerebral Palsy

CeRebral palsy birth injuries

These birth injuries are not location specific. Cerebral palsy birth injuries happen all around the world and right here at home in Vancouver, BC. A birth injury can have a devastating toll emotionally, mentally and physically on your family and close relationships.  

Cerebral palsy is actually a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions including movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking.

There are several different types of cerebral palsy, including spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, hypotonic, and mixed.

Cerebral palsy birth injury Symptoms

Symptoms of cerebral palsy can vary greatly, and can range from very mild to very severe. Symptoms can also affect either one or both sides of the body, can be more pronounced in the arms or legs, or can involve both the arms and the legs. Children usually start to display symptoms before the age of 2 years. Sometimes symptoms can begin immediately after birth. Seizure activity is often a "hallmark" of the injury.

Symptoms can include:

  • Hypertonic (excessively stiff) or hypotonic (excessively floppy) muscles
  • Developmental delays (rolling, sitting, crawling, walking) or poor motor skills
  • Difficulty sucking or feeding in infants, or difficulty chewing or swallowing in adults – sometimes requiring a feeding tube
  • Seizures
  • Problems with vision, hearing or speech

There are many other symptoms that can occur, depending on the type of cerebral palsy. If your child exhibits any or all of these symptoms, or any additional symptoms, you should seek a medical opinion and diagnosis as soon as possible.

Possible Causes & Risk Factors

Cerebral palsy is caused by injuries or abnormalities of the brain. These problems can occur as the baby grows in the womb or at any time during the first 2 years of life when the baby's brain is still rapidly growing and developing. In some individuals with cerebral palsy, parts of the brain have been injured due to low levels of oxygen (hypoxia) in that area of the brain. This low level of oxygen during birth known as HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy) is one of the more common forms of cerebral palsy birth injury caused from obstetric and/or hospital malpractice. Essentially, there is a failure to timely deliver the baby in an increasingly urgent situation that then becomes an emergency.

In some cases, there are early warning signs during delivery and the emergency situation could have been prevented entirely. In others, a timely c-section would have prevented the cerebral palsy birth injury.

Premature infants have a higher risk of developing cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy can also come about during delivery and early infancy as a result of other conditions, including:

  • Bleeding in the brain (especially with vacuum or forceps delivery)
  • Brain infections (encephalitis, meningitis, herpes simplex infections)
  • Head Injury
  • Infections in the mother during pregnancy (rubella)

Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Treatment Options

While there is currently no cure for cerebral palsy, there are treatments available to help the person be as independent as possible.

Proper treatment of a cerebral palsy birth injury usually requires a team of specialists, including doctors, nurses, attendant care specialists, dentists, social workers, therapists (occupational, physical and speech), neurologists, pulmonologists and gastroenterologists. Cerebral palsy birth injury treatment also includes education in self and home care. Many individuals with cerebral palsy also eventually require the assistance of different types of medical equipment and devices, including glasses, hearing aids, muscle and bone braces, walking aids and/or wheelchairs.

Over the course of an individual's lifetime, these costs can be substantial. Dr. Bradshaw has a proven track record of helping clients find out what went wrong and getting children the compensation they need to provide the best possible life and medical care for their loved ones. Dr. Bradshaw works with life care experts across the country to accurately determine the costs of treatment during a person's lifetime.


Obstetricians, in conjunction with insurance companies, defense attorneys and some pediatricians, wrote a book called "Obstetrics & Gynecology (Green Journal)". This publication was written to help defend these specific type of medical malpractice cases. It sets forth criteria which must be met before a cerebral palsy/birth injury from malpractice at delivery can be proven. The studies used by this publication do not even support the authors' conclusions; and, in most cases, in order to meet the criteria, the infant would be deceased. Here are the "requirements" from this book:

Essential criteria (must meet all four)

  1. Evidence of a metabolic acidosis in fetal umbilical cord arterial blood obtained at delivery (pH <7 and base deficit =12 mmol/L)
  2. Early onset of severe or moderate neonatal encephalopathy in infants born at 34 or more weeks of gestation
  3. Cerebral palsy of the spastic quadriplegic or dyskinetic type
  4. Exclusion of other identifiable etiologies such as trauma, coagulation disorders, infectious conditions, or genetic disorders

Criteria that collectively suggest an intrapartum timing (within close proximity to labor and delivery, eg, 0-48 hours) but are nonspecific to asphyxial insults

  1. A sentinel (signal) hypoxic event occurring immediately before or during labour
  2. A sudden and sustained fetal bradycardia or the absence of fetal heart rate variability in the presence of persistent, late, or variable decelerations, usually after a hypoxic sentinel event when the pattern was previously normal
  3. Apgar scores of 0-3 beyond 5 minutes
  4. Onset of multisystem involvement within 72 hours of birth
  5. Early imaging study showing evidence of acute nonfocal cerebral abnormality

Source: Fetal Heart Rate Monitoring Book
August 2011

If you suspect that cerebral palsy was due to a birth injury while you were under the care of a medical professional, our cerebral palsy birth injury lawyers would be willing to hear your story.  Maybe we can provide you with the answers or compensation that you deserve to help provide for your infant and family's future. Talk to a Vancouver birth injury lawyer.

Life Care Plans & birth injury recovery compensation

Sample Life Care Plan