Cerebral Palsy Causes & Treatment

Our Birth Injury Lawyers Are Here to Help

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a variety of disorders that impair the motor functions and physical development of a child. They are caused by brain damage that takes place before or during the birthing process, or sometimes during the first few months of life.

Its causes are widely varied, but in an unfortunate number of heartbreaking instances, cerebral palsy is the result of a preventable medical error.

While cerebral palsy is usually not a life-threatening impairment, it is catastrophic, permanent, and incurable. It is associated with movement disorders, and brain damage, as well as visual, hearing, and intellectual impairments.

Exceptional medical care is just one part of the lifelong journey when living with cerebral palsy. Ongoing therapy, medical devices, and disability services are generally necessary. The emotional toll is often equally high, especially if cerebral palsy was caused by a medical mistake. In these instances, filing a lawsuit may help you recover costs for ongoing medical treatment, as well as compensation for the pain and suffering that cerebral palsy has caused you and your child.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Every case of cerebral palsy is unique and can fall into a variety of different categories based on the severity of the motor skills affected. The most common types of cerebral palsy include:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy involves an increase in muscle tone, inhibiting general movement, flexibility, and speed. Individuals with this form of cerebral palsy lack partial control of muscle movement and, as a result, experience irregular, jerky movements and difficulty relaxing. Spastic cerebral palsy can also affect fine motor skills, including eating, breathing, and speaking. Up to 70-80% of cases are spastic, making it the most common form of cerebral palsy.


Individuals with dyskinetic cerebral palsy suffered damage in the basal ganglia area of the brain, which acts as a circuit board for the central nervous system by interpreting messages from the spinal cord and the movement center of the brain.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy causes involuntary movements commonly divided into two categories: dystonia, which causes writhing or twisting movements, and athetosis, a form of cerebral palsy in which individuals have low muscle tone, causing slowed movements. Athetosis can also lead to difficulty gripping items, like pens, cups, and other objects.


Ataxic cerebral palsy is non-spastic and affects coordinated movements, like walking and balance. Depth perception is also commonly impaired in individuals with ataxic cerebral palsy. It may lead to difficulty making quick or precise movements, like placing a key in a lock. Ataxic cerebral palsy is relatively rare and accounts for about 5% of cases.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

The causes of cerebral palsy are as wide-ranging as the impairments associated with cerebral palsy. Although cerebral palsy is not hereditary, a child may be genetically predisposed to acquire it. However, injuries sustained during the labor process are the most common cause of cerebral palsy.

Some of the most common causes include:

  • Hypoxia, or a lack of oxygen
  • Intracranial hemorrhaging, or bleeding in the skull
  • Brain malformations, including cerebral dysgenesis
  • Brain damage, including Periventricular Leukomalacia
  • Infections in the mother prior to birth, like rubella or cytomegalovirus toxoplasmosis
  • Trauma during delivery, which can include failure to order a caesarean section, improper use of forceps, improper fetal monitoring, and a number of other errors

Treatments for Cerebral Palsy

Unfortunately, cerebral palsy cannot be cured. But, as our understanding of the disorder grows, technological advancements have made living with cerebral palsy more manageable.

Typically, treatment for cerebral palsy includes some form of therapy, be it physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, or a variety of other therapeutic options. Children and adults living with cerebral palsy may also employ assistant devices such as splints or braces (orthoses). In other cases, surgery is recommended to help reduce muscle stiffness.

Unfortunately, treatment for cerebral palsy is costly, and is usually long-term.

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

Yes. If you are reading this, you probably need answers and are looking for help.

Cerebral palsy may or may not have been the result of medical negligence. But it is important to have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney thoroughly review your child’s medical records with the help of trained physicians to determine if medical negligence played a part in your child’s diagnosis.

A skilled birth injury lawyer will be able guide you through your options, which may include filing a lawsuit against a physician or hospital involved in your child’s injury. During the litigation process, your law firm’s experience and reputation are vital, and affect how willing an insurance company or hospital will be to settle with you or fight your case.

Murphy, Falcon & Murphy has earned a reputation for fearless representation and creative legal strategies. It is this unorthodox combination that has helped our clients achieve multi-million dollar results. If a reasonable settlement amount cannot be reached, our attorneys will go to trial to fight for you and your child.

To see if our our law firm can assist you and your family during this critical time, contact us by calling (410) 951-8744.

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