It's a federal law: every state must provide an advocate for
disabled people to fight for their legal rights and represent their
interests before government agencies. The advocate can provide legal help
for individuals or groups of disabled people.
Cerebral palsy--also known as CP--is a condition
caused by injury to the parts of the brain that control our ability to use
our muscles and bodies. Cerebral means having to do with the brain. Palsy
means weakness or problems with using the muscles. Often the injury happens
before birth, sometimes during delivery, or soon after being born. CP can be
mild, moderate, or severe. Mild CP may mean a child is clumsy. Moderate CP
may mean the child walks with a limp. He or she may need a special leg brace
or a cane. More severe CP can affect all parts of a child's physical
abilities. A child with moderate or severe CP may have to use a wheelchair
and other special equipment. Sometimes children with CP can also have
learning problems, problems with hearing or seeing (called sensory
problems), or mental retardation. Usually, the greater the injury to the
brain, the more severe the CP.
There are three main types of CP:
* Spastic CP is where there is too much muscle tone or tightness.
Movements are stiff, especially in the legs, arms, and/or back. Children
with this form of CP move their legs awkwardly, turning in or scissoring
their legs as they try to walk. This is the most common form of CP.
* Athetoid CP (also called dyskinetic CP) can affect movements of the
entire body. Typically, this form of CP involves slow, uncontrolled body
movements and low muscle tone that makes it hard for the person to sit
straight and walk.
* Mixed CP is a combination of the symptoms listed above. A child with
mixed CP has both high and low tone muscle. Some muscles are too tight,
and others are too loose, creating a mix of stiffness and involuntary
More words used to describe the different types of CP include:
* Diplegia--This means only the legs are affected.
* Hemiplegia--This means one half of the body (such as the right arm and
leg) is affected.
* Quadriplegia--This means both arms and legs are affected, sometimes
including the facial muscles and torso.
People suffering from cerebral palsy can have a variety
of problems related to brain damage and poor muscle control.
Just as patients have problems with muscle control in their arms and
legs, they also have difficulties controlling their tongue, mouth, lips,
jaw, and breath flow. As a result, they might have problems with speech.
The most common speech problem is called dysarthria. This condition
causes speech to be slow and slurred and, in some cases, hypernasal (too
much air flow through the nose) or hyponasal (not enough air flow
through the nose).
Cerebral palsy sufferers are also prone to drooling. There are several
treatments available to combat this problem:
* Anticholinergics(drugs that reduce the flow of saliva)
* Biofeedback - lets the patient know when they are drooling
Because many of the same muscles used for talking are also used for
eating, people with cerebral palsy also have difficulty when they eat.
This can lead to malnutrition, as well as poor growth and development.
Another common problem is incontinence - poor bladder control.
Incontinence takes several forms:
* Enuresis(bed wetting)
* Stress incontinence (urination during physical activity)
* Slow leak from the bladder
People with cerebral palsy may also suffer from learning disabilities.
These disabilities can range from mild to severe. Patients with a mild
learning disability may only have difficulties with a couple of subjects
in school. Patients with severe mental retardation, however, learn at a
much slower rate and need special assistance.
Approximately half of all people with cerebral palsy suffer from
seizures. Seizures occur when there is abnormal brain activity (the
brain attempts to send abnormal messages very close together). Seizures
affect people in different ways - some people may stop moving and stare,
others may fall down. Some seizures cause a person to fall and shake
violently. The seizures are generally not dangerous and will only last a
This information is intended to provide a brief overview of the problems
related to cerebral palsy. Consult a physician to learn more about your
If your child has suffered a birth injury before, during, or shortly
after birth, contact a cerebral palsy attorney to discuss your legal
If you have any questions about your cerebral palsy legal
rights, you may consult an attorney in this listing.
Litigators Incorporated is a Plaintiff's medical malpractice law firm
that concentrates on representing parents of children with cerebral
palsy, brain damage, Erb's palsy, and brachial plexus palsy.
Jeff Brody is an attorney and president of the firm. His sister died,
leaving behind a child born with brain damage. Her death was the
motivating force in his decision to handle birth trauma cases. Since
then he has talked to thousands of parents of children with brain damage
or cerebral palsy from all over the country, making him one of the
leading birth trauma attorneys in the United States. He and the
attorneys across the nation with whom he is affiliated are experienced
in dealing with the complicated details associated with a medical
Kenneth M. Sigelman, J.D., M.D.
Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates is a law firm dedicated to protecting
the rights of children injured during the birth process as a result of
medical malpractice. Over the past 17 years, Ken Sigelman, who is a
licensed medical doctor as well as an award-winning trial lawyer, has
personally obtained numerous verdicts, settlements, and arbitration
awards in excess of $1 million.
Cerebral palsy, Erb's palsy, Group-B strep infections, and other birth
injuries are the firm's primary areas of practice. In this complex and
difficult area of the law, Ken Sigelman's medical background, legal
expertise, and passionate commitment to justice for victims of medical
negligence have proved to be a winning combination time and time again.
Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates limits its representation to victims of
medical malpractice and their families. The firm does not represent
insurance companies, HMOs, doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare