Subdural Hematoma and Cerebral Palsy

What should you do when your baby suffers Subdural Hematoma and Cerebral Palsy?

A subdural hematoma is the result of a head injur, and causes damage to the blood vessels between the surface of the brain and the outer covering known as the dura to leak. Blood then collects, leading to swelling that can cause damage to the delicate brain cells in the region of the brain that controls movement.

The larger the subdural hematoma, the more serious the risks, because the rush of blood to the area can potentially cut off blood to other areas of the brain, cutting off oxygen to that area.

Because parts of the brain may not be receiving adequate amounts of blood and therefore oxygen, one of the biggest risk factors of a subdural hematoma at birth is cerebral palsy.

What Causes Subdural Hematomas?

Subdural hematomas are the result of traumatic head injuries before or during delivery, and they are often the result of medical negligence.

There are three different types of subdural hematomas, including: chronic, which is caused by a minor head injury and leads to slow bleeding that doesn’t show symptoms for weeks; subacute, which is more severe than chronic but still is slow to show symptoms; and acute, the most serious type of injury, which shows symptoms early and requires immediate care.

Some potential causes include:

  • A prolonged labor during which the infant may become injured in the birth canal during forceful pushing, which is a risk when doctors administer too much of the labor-inducing drug Pitocin.
  • The baby is too large to fit comfortably trough the birth canal, but is still delivered vaginally, when a cesarean section would be a less risky option.
  • The baby is either in a breech or facethe first position, which can require the need for assisted birthing devices such as forceps or a vacuum extractor, both of which can lead to head injuries that may result in bleeding on the brain.
  • Maternal high blood pressure, which diverts blood and oxygen away from the baby.
  • Weakened blood vessels in the brain.

Alcohol abuse, the excessive use of blood thinners including aspirin while pregnant and maternal infections can also contribute to subdural hematomas.

Why Is Cerebral Palsy a Risk?

Because subdural hematomas not only cause pressure on the brain, potentially damaging cells of the brain that control motor skills and in some cases, cognitive function, while diverting blood and oxygen from other areas of the brain cerebral palsy is one of the biggest risk factors associated with the condition.

Approximately 20 percent of cerebral palsy cases (CP) are a result of birth injuries that cause injury to the brain.

One of the causes associated with CP is the bleeding on the brain that accompanies subdural hematomas.

Cerebral palsy is the result of damage to the areas of the brain that control motor skills and movement, including the cerebellum, the basal ganglia, the motor cortex of the frontal lobe and the pyramidal tract of the cerebral cortex, which contains the nerves that control movement. Because all of these areas of the brain are part of relaying messages from the brain to the nerves and muscles that control movement, if any of these areas is damaged by a subdural hematoma, cerebral palsy is a risk.

There are several different forms of cerebral palsy, including spastic cerebral palsy (caused by damage to the motor cortex), dyskinetic CP (caused by damage to the cerebellum or basal ganglia), ataxic CP (caused by damaged to the cerebellum), and mixed CP (caused by injuries to several different areas of the brain that control motor function).

Subdural Hematoma Symptoms

There are multiple symptoms associated with subdural hematomas, including visible injuries to the scalp, as well as:

  • Lethargy
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Uncontrollable, high-pitched crying
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Little or no reaction to light or other stimuli
  • Slow, labored breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Leaking spinal fluid, usually from an ear or the nose
  • Coma

Many symptoms of a subdural hematoma are evident immediately. But if subdural hematoma triggered enough brain damage to cause cerebral palsy, it often takes months to determine whether or not your child has cerebral palsy, since the major symptoms associated with the disorder, including motor skills and cognitive function, won’t reveal themselves until a child is about a year and a half old.

At that point, CT scans and MRIs can determine the level of brain damage as well as the area of the brain where the damage occurred. If the damage correlates with the subdural hematoma, the two are most likely related, and medical negligence should be taken into consideration.

Do I Need an Attorney If My Child Has Cerebral Palsy Due to a Subdural Hematoma?

While bruising and swelling is normal after any birth, a subdural hematoma causes more serious signs of injury and obvious swelling.

If your child developed cerebral palsy as a result of a subdural hematoma that was the result of medical negligence during a traumatic birth, an experienced attorney can help determine the cause of your baby’s birth injury based on medical records, expert witnesses and previous experience with similar birth injury cases.

Cerebral palsy can result in serious, costly injuries, and an experienced attorney can give you legal advice regarding a potential lawsuit, and if you should proceed, will use any available resources to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve to cover the costs of your child’s injuries.