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Home » Latest News » What is Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a blanket term for a group of non-progressive neurological conditions caused by an injury to the brain before, during or shortly after birth.

There are many sub-types, but the three main ones are spastic cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy and athetoid cerebral palsy. It is a condition which mainly affects body movement and co-ordination and affects about 1 in every 400 children in the UK.

Possible causes of cerebral palsy include:

• A bleed within the baby's brain
• Abnormal brain development
• A premature or difficult birth process e.g.  a baby being starved of oxygen during birth
• Infection during pregnancy
• Changes in genes which affect the development of the brain

Possible negligent causes of cerebral palsy include:

• Failure to deliver the baby early enough / by emergency caesarean
• Errors in using forceps or ventouse
• Failure to monitor the baby’s heartbeat

Cerebral palsy is typically diagnosed during the first or second year of a baby’s life.

Symptoms

The main symptoms are:

• Muscle stiffness, floppiness, and weakness
• Random, uncontrolled body movements
• Balance and co-ordination problems

The symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the condition.

There is no cure for cerebral palsy however, there are numerous treatments available to manage the symptoms, such as physiotherapy to ease discomfort, occupational therapy, medication to relieve muscle stiffness and spasms, and surgery.

My experience of cerebral palsy

I am a Clinical Negligence Solicitor who assists families who have been affected by cerebral palsy as a result of medical negligence, and part time carer for my brother who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy associated with spasticity and dystonia.

I understand what families who are impacted by cerebral palsy go through, and the complex lifelong needs that the child will have. My brother is significantly disabled and will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life. My brother is 18 years old and was diagnosed at 6 weeks old following a routine CT scan of the brain taken due to a pre-term birth (30 weeks gestation).

As a young child it was soon evident that he would have lifelong physical disabilities. He cannot walk, sit up properly, or roll. He is dependent on others for washing, dressing, toileting and feeding, and needs a powered wheelchair. Additionally, he also suffers with, amongst other things, anxiety, salivary drooling, learning difficulty, and constipation.

The family home is specially adapted which includes a lift, a wet room, additional space for his wheelchair, a profiling bed, and hoists around the house. The family car is also wheelchair accessible.

Whilst my brother has his limitations, he does not let these get in the way. He is able to talk and is content with life. He attends a special needs school and has many friends. He has many hobbies, such as playing FIFA on his Xbox, attending Hull KR home and away matches as a season ticket holder, and attending gigs and festivals as a lover of music.

I am passionate about my job and helping cerebral palsy charities because I understand not only the physical and emotional strain cerebral palsy can have on the child and their families, but also the financial strain, particularly regarding equipment to improve quality of life, rehabilitation, and adaptations.

I love helping people who really do need my help and enjoy working closely with medical experts to fully get to grips with the child’s needs.

Article written by Jack Fox, Solicitor at Bridge McFarland LLP.