Becoming a parent is one of the most beautiful, fulfilling experience life has to offer. It’s also fraught with uncertainty. We wonder if we’ll make good parents, about the quality of life we can give to a child. Sadly, not every pregnancy is a trouble-free. Complications during and after delivery can arrive and throw unexpected curveballs into an already painful experience.
Learning your little love has cerebral palsy (CP) is particularly challenging. CP is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear during early childhood development. This disorder occurs in about 1 out of 500 live births and has been around for a long as human civilization.
Typically, cerebral palsy is categorized into four major types: spastic, athetoid, ataxic and mixed. Of these four, mixed cerebral palsy is the most difficult to treat.
- Section 1
- What is Mixed Cerebral Palsy?
- Section 2
- Symptoms of Mixed Cerebral Palsy
- Section 3
- Causes of Mixed Cerebral Palsy
- Section 4
- Complications of Mixed CP
- Section 5
- Treatments for Mixed Cerebral Palsy
- Section 6
- Medical Mistakes Can Cause Cerebral Palsy
What is Mixed Cerebral Palsy?
All forms of CP are caused by damage to the motor control centers in the developing fetal or infant brain. Specific types of CP are linked to the parts of the brain that have been damaged. In spastic CP, the motor cortex has been compromised. In ataxic CP, it’s the cerebellum. Dysfunction of the basal ganglia is responsible for dyskinetic CP.
Mixed cerebral palsy occurs when two or more types of CP are present in one child. This means brain damage is present in several centers for motor control. The neurons that pass information to these centers misfire, sending out too many electrical impulses at once.
A child with this condition may present stiff jerky movements, known as spasticity, and then rigidity and floppiness (athetoid) at various uncontrollable intervals. In fact, the most common form of mixed CP is spastic and athetoid. However, any combination of the various types of CP is possible.
Cerebral palsy is further classified depending on the parts of the body experiencing movement problems. In the legs, this is known as diplegia. Hemiplegia is when one half of the body is affected. In quadriplegia, all four limbs suffer from malfunction.
Mixed CP is the most difficult to treat due to the unpredictable presentation of symptoms over a lifespan.
Symptoms of Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy symptoms start to appear between nine months to three years of age. However, it can be difficult to diagnose. Every child grows differently, and doctors need to be sure that the symptoms are not simply normal developmental milestones. Developmental delay is often the first indicator that a child has mixed cerebral palsy.
Talk with your pediatrician if your baby or toddler:
- Is unable to hold head up on its own while lying on sitting
- Has difficulty feeding or swallowing
- Has poor muscle control
- Feels floppy when held
- Has Frequent muscles spasm or feels stiff
- Is unable to walk by 18 months
- Is unable to speak simple sentences by 24 months
Once discussed, your doctor will refer you to several special screening and developmental evaluations to confirm whether or not your child has any form of cerebral palsy.
Causes of Mixed Cerebral Palsy
The brain damage responsible for CP occurs during fetal and infant development. Maternal infections, fetal infections and pelvic inflammatory disease increase the risk of having a child with cerebral palsy. For these reasons, proper prenatal care is essential to reduce the chances of a high-risk pregnancy.
Other risks and causes of mixed cerebral palsy include:
- RH incompatibility (a conflict between the mother’s blood and the baby’s blood)
- Maternal thyroid problems
- Maternal intellectual disability and seizures
- Lack of oxygen during delivery
- Traumatic brain injury during the first year of life
- Severe untreated jaundice
- Placental failure
- Bleeding in the brain
- Breathing meconium into the lungs
- Premature or low birth weight
- Exposure to toxins
Complications of Mixed CP
The defining characteristics of cerebral palsy involve abnormal control of movement or posture. However, difficulties learning, communicating, seeing, hearing and thinking often occur with this disorder. In cases of mixed cerebral palsy, seizures, intellectual disability, feeding and sensory issues are more prevalent.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder are the most common complications of mixed CP. In addition, the frequent involuntary movements of mixed cerebral palsy make everyday activities like dressing, eating, speaking, reaching and grasping exceedingly troublesome.
Mixed cerebral palsy is non-progressive, meaning symptoms stay relatively the same for the duration of life. The CDC also reports that the lifetime cost for CP care is approximately $1 million.
Improvements in modern medicine have increased the life expectancy of an individual with mixed CP, but it remains slightly less than that of the general population.
Treatments for Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Mixed cerebral palsy is the most difficult to treat due to its unpredictability. Often, symptoms of all types of CP simultaneously appear. In all categories of cerebral palsy, treatment varies according to the symptoms present.
- Medication to reduce spasticity
- Surgery to adjust muscle contractures
- Devices to correct vision and hearing
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Assistive technology for eating and speaking
For high-risk mothers, cooling the infant immediately after delivery has been shown to combat inflammation of the brain, which can lead to developing cerebral palsy.
Medical Mistakes Can Cause Cerebral Palsy
Infant brain injury that results in CP can be caused by negligence on the part of the doctor and the attending medical staff. As a parent of a child with a birth injury, you may be entitled to compensation for medical, emotional and psychological stress.
Mistakes that medical staff make which can injury your infant’s brain include:
- Failure to properly diagnose maternal infections
- Failure to treat high blood pressure in expectant or delivering mothers
- Improper use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Delay or failure to perform C-section when infant is distressed
- Failure to detect umbilical cord prolapse
- Failure to address lack of oxygen to infant
- Failure to detect and treat seizures in mother
Speak to an Attorney
If you feel your child’s mixed cerebral palsy is the result of medical negligence, you may have questions about your right to take legal action. Cerebral palsy is a difficult condition, and your family shouldn’t be made to suffer like this. We want to help make your life easier. Our attorneys have deep experience in medical malpractice cases.
Please contact the attorneys at The Oshman Firm today at (800) 400-8182 to discuss your situation. Consultations are free and at no obligation to you.