Hemiplegic cerebral palsy is a form of cerebral palsy that disrupts movement to the entire side of a person’s body, rendering the person paralyzed on the affected side. This condition is usually the result of a severe injury during delivery or shortly thereafter but there are additional causes that may contribute to the condition within the first months of a child’s life.
It is important to determine the exact cause of an injury that results in cerebral palsy so that if negligence was a factor, you can seek compensation from the responsible parties for the treatment and care your child will require for the rest of his or her life.
Causes of Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy
Hemiplegia is caused by an injury to one side of the brain and the area affected by the injury is on the opposite side of the area injured, so if the injury occurred to the right side of the brain, the child will experience paralysis on his or her left side. The development of this condition is primarily linked to severe forms of trauma but not all cases are the result of a physical injury. Common causes of hemiplegic cerebral palsy include the following.
- Hemorrhaging at the time of birth— a condition known as intraventricular hemorrhaging is linked to hemiplegia and often occurs during premature births. The hemorrhaging occurs when blood finds its way into the fluid filled areas of the brain and the resulting swelling is what causes the injury.
- Perinatal injuries— injuries sustained in the weeks leading up to and following the birth of a child have an increased impact on the chances of causing brain damage or severe trauma. If the child is injured following a successful delivery, the injuries can result in conditions similar to and including cerebral palsy.
- Traumatic brain injury— assisted delivery devices place an extreme amount of pressure on the child’s head during delivery and their misuse can result in severe trauma to the brain. The resulting swelling, hemorrhaging and elevated bilirubin levels all contribute to the development of cerebral palsy.
- Infections— in some cases, the brain suffers damage due to an infection shortly after birth. The most common forms of infections that contribute to hemiplegic cerebral palsy are meningitis, encephalitis and subdural empyema.
- Vasculitis— this condition causes the inflammation of major blood vessels and leads to swelling inside of the brain and affect the areas responsible for motor function and balance.
- Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation— if a child’s heart or lungs are underdeveloped or have not formed properly, this treatment is used to circulate blood through the baby’s body through the use of an artificial lung until the child can receive a heart or lung transplant. The treatment does not come without risks and these risks include the formation of blood clots, infections and uncontrollable bleeding, which may all damage the brain.
Common Symptoms of Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy
The primary indicator of hemiplegia is that the injury has only affected one side of the body while the other develops and responds normally. When evaluating whether children have cerebral palsy, doctors instruct parents to observe the children for behaviors or visual signs that may indicate the need for further testing. The signs and symptoms of hemiplegia include the following.
- Abnormal muscle tone on one side of the body— in some cases, muscles appear rigid or overly tense while in others the muscles are weak and loose. The corresponding muscles on the side opposite of those affected will show a marked contrast as they are unaffected and develop normally.
- The use of only one hand— children with hemiplegia will only be able to use one hand or may greatly favor one hand over the other. Other signs include the constant balling up of one hand into a fist and not releasing it.
- Poor balance and coordination— it will be difficult for children affected by hemiplegia to crawl, sit up, stand or walk. Signs include falling behind peers who have already accomplished similar tasks such as taking first steps and beginning to walk and favoring one side of the body whenever moving.
- Diminished fine motor skills— fine motor skills affect the ability to perform precise movements that often involve smaller muscles or groups of muscles such as tasks that require the use of fingers to grip onto and hold objects.
- Vision and hearing impairment— the brain may have difficulty controlling one eye and this can impact sight and the ability to focus vision. Problems with hearing often accompany cerebral palsy as well.
- Speech and language— oral motor skills required to form sounds and words may be affected by the injury, making it difficult to learn how to speak or communicate.
- Epilepsy— while not directly related to cerebral palsy, about half of those diagnosed suffer from varying degrees of epilepsy. Not all seizures are physical in nature and some may result in blackouts, cause headaches or affect the ability to concentrate.
- Learning disabilities— whenever a child sustains an injury to the brain it is possible to develop some form of learning disability. These disabilities are not directly the result of hemiplegic cerebral palsy but often accompany the condition and can be mild or severe.
If your child has been diagnosed with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, you are undoubtedly experiencing many emotions and in need of answers. The Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you find out the exact cause of your child’s injury and determine who is responsible so that you may secure the compensation required to provide a lifetime of care and support. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation so that we can answer your questions, perform a thorough investigation and explore your legal options together.
Our cerebral palsy attorneys are only compensated when we have successfully secured compensation on our clients’ behalf and if we should fail to help you do the same, our services will be free of charge.