One of the most frightening, and most dangerous birth injuries, are spinal cord injuries. A spinal cord birth injury can have a profound impact on a child’s life, leading to lifelong challenges and necessitating significant medical care and support. In this blog post, we will delve into the causes, prevalence, prevention methods, and legal recourse available to parents affected by spinal cord injuries at birth.
Understanding Spinal Cord Birth Injuries
Spinal cord injuries during birth can occur due to various factors, including medical negligence, traumatic delivery, improper use of delivery instruments, or failure to address complications promptly. The delicate nature of a newborn’s spinal cord makes it susceptible to damage during the birthing process, especially if excessive force is exerted or if the head and neck are not adequately supported.
Prevalence of Spinal Cord Injuries at Birth
Although spinal cord injuries at birth are considered rare, they can have devastating consequences for the child and their family. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that around 0.3 to 5.6 per 1,000 live births are affected by birth-related spinal cord injuries. While the prevalence may be relatively low, the impact on the affected families is immeasurable.
Consequences of Spinal Cord Birth Injuries
The severity of the consequences depends on the location and extent of the injury. In some fortunate circumstances, injuries may be mild or recoverable, but due to the nature of the human spine, many times these injuries cause lifelong issues. Some potential consequences of spinal cord injuries at birth include:
- Physical disabilities: Children with spinal cord injuries may experience paralysis or weakness in the affected parts of the body. The level of paralysis depends on the level of the spinal cord injury. Paralysis can range from partial (paraplegia) to complete (tetraplegia or quadriplegia), affecting the ability to move limbs, trunk, and, in severe cases, even the ability to breathe independently.
- Sensory impairments: SCI at birth can lead to loss or impairment of sensory functions below the level of injury. This may include reduced or absent sensation of touch, temperature, and pain in the affected areas of the body.
- Bowel and bladder dysfunction: Spinal cord injuries can disrupt the nerve signals that control bowel and bladder function, leading to difficulties in controlling urination and defecation. This can result in the need for catheterization and bowel management routines.
- Respiratory issues: Severe spinal cord injuries can affect the muscles involved in breathing, leading to respiratory problems and potential dependence on mechanical ventilation.
- Musculoskeletal complications: Children with spinal cord injuries may experience muscle contractures, joint deformities, and bone density loss due to immobility and lack of weight-bearing activities.
- Neurological complications: SCI at birth can lead to secondary neurological issues such as spasticity (abnormal muscle stiffness), neuropathic pain, and autonomic dysreflexia (abnormal response to stimuli).
- Impact on daily living: Spinal cord injuries can pose significant challenges for daily living activities, such as self-care, mobility, and participation in social and educational activities.
- Emotional and psychological impact: The consequences of spinal cord injuries can have a profound emotional and psychological impact on both the child and their family, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression.
Preventing Spinal Cord Injuries
Medical professionals have a duty to provide a high standard of care during the delivery process to prevent spinal cord injuries. They should closely monitor both the mother and baby throughout labor and delivery, promptly address any complications, and take appropriate actions to ensure a safe and controlled delivery. Techniques such as the use of forceps or vacuum extractors should be employed with caution and expertise to minimize the risk of spinal cord injuries.
Pursuing Financial Compensation with a Birth Injury Lawyer
Parents facing the daunting reality of a spinal cord injury at birth often find themselves overwhelmed emotionally, physically, and financially. Seeking financial compensation can help ease the burden of medical expenses, ongoing care, therapy, and necessary lifestyle modifications.
Birth injury lawyers specialize in helping families navigate the legal complexities of medical malpractice cases, providing the expertise and support needed to pursue a birth injury claim. These experienced attorneys understand the intricacies of the legal system and work tirelessly to hold negligent medical professionals accountable.
When seeking financial compensation, birth injury lawyers assess the circumstances surrounding the injury, gather medical records and evidence, consult with medical experts, and build a strong case on behalf of the affected child and their family. They negotiate with insurance companies and, if necessary, litigate in court to ensure fair compensation is obtained to cover medical expenses, rehabilitation, assistive devices, future care, and other related costs.
Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Our qualified birth injury lawyers are here to offer support, guidance, and legal representation, working tirelessly to help families affected by birth injuries seek justice and obtain the compensation they deserve. Get in touch with us today by calling our office or filling out our confidential contact form.