Today, 6 October 2017, is World Cerebral Palsy Day. 

The purpose of World Cerebral Palsy Day is to draw attention to and raise awareness of the condition which affects approximately 1 in 400 babies born in the UK and a total of over 17 million people worldwide. 

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy is the term used to describe a group of permanent disorders in which brain damage causes difficulties with muscle control, muscle tone, movement, posture and coordination. The symptoms may be mild enough to pass unnoticed or severe enough to require 24 hour care. Whilst some suffer from significant cognitive impairment with limited physical restrictions, others may have significant physical disabilities and remain intellectual intact. Vision, hearing or other senses may also be impaired.

What causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy is caused by brain injury or brain malformation before, during, or soon after birth when the brain is developing.

It is not always possible to determine the cause of the brain damage due to the limitations of medical science, but potential causes of cerebral palsy include:

- brain damage due to intermittent or continuous disruption oxygen or blood supply to the brain;

- brain damage due to maternal infection;

- stroke (before, during or after birth);

- head injury (before, during or after birth);

- infection (such as meningitis) affecting the brain;

- brain damage due to very low blood sugar.

In the majority of cases the brain damage leading to Cerebral Palsy is an unavoidable consequence of genetics, disease or trauma. However, in other cases where brain damage is the result of failures or mistakes in the medical care provided to mother or child it may be possible to bring a medical negligence claim.

Treatments

There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatments and therapies are available which can significantly improve quality of life. 

These include:

- physiotherapy to help maintain and improve movement and physical abilities;

- speech and language therapy to assist with communication and swallowing;

- surgery to reduce muscle stiffness (eg selective dorsal rhizotomy), to treat movement difficulties or to correct growth problems;

- medication including for muscle problems, epilepsy, sleep or other difficulties;

- occupational therapy to identify methods, aids and equipment to make day to day activities easier and increase independence.

Our support

We support the vision of World Cerebral Palsy Day which is to ensure that children and adults with Cerebral Palsy have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society.

As medical negligence solicitors specialising in birth injury and brain injury claims, we are privileged to have represented many clients with cerebral palsy and to have seen the difference that care, assistance, therapies, educational resources, equipment and bespoke accommodation can make to their lives and those of their families. 

We also work closely with cerebral palsy and child brain injury charities offering a wide range of services including the fields of care, equipment, education and family support.

We are particularly proud to support CP Sport in their efforts to provide accessible sporting activities and enable more children with cerebral palsy to enjoy the benefits of participation. This weekend we are sponsoring and volunteering at the Cerebral Palsy Sport Training Camp for Athletics, RaceRunning and Swimming. This is a valuable opportunity for participants to develop their skills whilst coaches benefit from specialist training to help path the way for better inclusion nationwide. 

If you have concerns regarding treatment that you or a family member received during pregnancy or labour, or have reason to believe your child may have suffered brain damage as a result of substandard medical care, then we can offer advice and support. Please contact Catherine Bell on catherine.bell@freeths.co.uk or 01865 781140 for a free confidential discussion.