Cerebral Palsy

Overview of Cerebral Palsy

Answers to your Family's Questions

For more than 15 years Bradford S. Davis, M.D. has been helping families find answers about cerebral palsy: what caused my child's condition? Could it have been prevented? Though he has been a physician for more than 30 years, over the last decade and a half Dr. Davis has been with the Los Angeles-based law firm Michels & Lew. As the law firm's lead medical investigator, he analyzes and evaluates complex medical records to find evidence of medical malpractice especially related to birth and childhood injury. If medical malpractice may have contributed to your child's challenges, Dr. Davis may be able to help you find the truth.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is not contagious, it is not curable and it does not typically become more or less severe over time. CP is not an illness. It is a group of disorders effecting a child's motor development, posture, and physical abilities. The disorder is nearly always the result of a disturbance or series of disturbances to the brain occurring before or during early infancy. These disturbances can result from injuries or conditions suffered during, before or immediately after birth. Some of the challenges related to CP may be immediately clear while others are not apparent until a child is several days, weeks or months old. The severity of some challenges may not be clear until a child is 3 to 4 years of age. 

The exact causes may be unclear until a detailed analysis is conducted. Even then, identifying the causes may be impossible due to the complexities involved. However, Dr. Davis has the skill and experience to focus on the source of the injuries that may have caused your child's condition. Birth asyphxia, untreated maternal conditions, and undiagnosed infections are just some examples of what may have caused irreparable harm to your child's brain. 

The damage to a child's brain can have severe consequences resulting in impairment of speech and hearing, intellectual struggles, sight deficiencies, significant mobility issues, seizures, and a wide-range of motor skills challenges. 

Though there are unifying characteristics for all people suffering from the condition, the disorders can lead to a wide-range of behaviors and impairments depending on the area of the brain that is injured. The following are brief introductions to each of the most common classifications of cerebral palsy. 

  • Spastic: Hemiplegia, quadriplegia, and diplegia are the three subtypes of spastic cerebral palsy. The term "spastic" generally refers to intense muscle contractions that make limbs difficult or impossible to move. Tension from such contractions throughout the body may be unpredictable or constant. In children who have been diagnosed with spastic hemiplegia, one side of their body is exclusively or predominately effected by such tension. Spastic quadriplegia indicates that all four limb, especially the legs, are impacted. The child's muscle tone--including throughout the face and neck-- is increased and may make coordinated movement extremely challenging. Spastic diplegia usually indicates that both legs are predominately influenced but the use of the arms may also be impaired. The increased tone and uncontrollable muscle tension can lead to deformity and problems with swallowing, speaking, and walking. 
  • Extrapyramidal: This classification is further separated into choreoathetotic cerebral palsy and dystonic cerebral palsy. In both subtypes, individuals are unable to perform a wide variety of movements without uncontrollable muscle interference. Involuntary extension or bending of the limbs, defects in posture, difficulty with speech and rigid muscle tone in certain areas of the body may be present. Facial muscles may contort unpredictably and uncontrollably. Throat muscles and the tongue may move unpredictably. Also, children with this form of CP often have severe cognitive impairment. 
  • Mixed: Children with a mixed form of CP may experience manifestations of both extrapyramidal and spastic types. Often these children have suffered an injury that impacted large areas of the brain leading to muscle spasticity in some areas of the body as well as muscle interference in others. 
  • Ataxic: This form of CP is the least common though it is sometimes present in children who also have spastic diplegia which is particularly common in preterm infants. Standing and sitting upright may be incredibly difficult and walking may be delayed until the child is over the age of three. Walking may always involve significant challenges and the coordination needed to perform fine motor skills, such as writing, may be substantially diminished. Educational achievement and cognitive milestones may be difficult to achieve due to severely impaired motor coordination rather than intellectual impairment. Because children with this form of CP often have nearly normal intellectual development and many of the physical challenges are not apparent until the child tries to sit upright or walk, ataxic cerebral palsy may be difficult to diagnose until the child is approximately a year old. 

When any part of the brain development process is arrested or compromised, the results can be massive. However, motor function, co-ordination, cognition, and speaking ability may all be improved and your child's condition can be effectively treated with proper medical intervention and supportive therapy. Early and intense intervention may be keys to success, but treatment must be individualized and tailored for each child's needs depending on the area of the brain that was injured and their diagnosis. 

With appropriate treatment, a person with CP may be able to live on their own, maintain a career and have an extremely fulfilling life. Because the right treatment and support can make such a tremendous amount of difference in their quality of life, your child deserves the most exceptional treatment available. If you have questions about the causes of your child's condition and would like to know if a medical error may have contributed to their condition, contact Dr. Davis for a free consultation.

An Experienced Doctor Advocating for your Rights

All children with CP should be evaluated by a medical investigator who focuses on the causes of cerebral palsy. Dr. Davis has evaluated hundreds of birth injury cases and has uncovered evidence of medical malpractice in many many times.

A hospital or medical care providers may be totally or in-part responsible for the injuries to your baby. Your child may be facing a life-time of impairments as well as chronic pain. They will also need consistent medical care for the rest of their life. Dr. Davis and the legal team of Michels & Lew may help you recover substantial financial support if medical malpractice is involved. We offer extensive cerebral palsy legal support and we have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients whose CP was caused by medical professionals performing below a standard of care. The costs of cerebral palsy should not be yours to carry alone; those responsible for your child's injury should be held accountable.