Hemiplegia Awareness Week - October 15-19

The Definition of and Mechanisms that Cause Hemiplegia

The week of October 15 is Hemiplegia Awareness Week, and to help educate, we wanted to do a special blog post about the condition that affects many of our clients and millions worldwide.

Hemiplegia is a type of cerebral palsy that affects the nervous system of a child by causing paralysis or limited control of movement on one side of the body.

The exact cause of hemiplegia is not known in many cases, but is thought to come about as a result of neuronal death from hypoxia (a lack of oxygen to the brain). This commonly occurs in adults during a stroke or ischemic event. In neonates and newborns, this usually occurs as a result of a reduction or complete cessation of oxygenation through the utero-placental unit. In layman's terms, this occurs when, for some reason, adequate oxygen is not being provided to the baby prior to birth.

When the brain is injured, the injury usually manifests on the opposite side of the body. If there is an insult to the right side of the brain, the hemiplegia will occur on the left side of the body. This happens because the nerves that control movement in the body crisscross prior to meeting the areas of the brain that control them. Where the injury occurs on the brain not only occurs which side will be affected, but also controls the severity of the hemiplegic injury.

Hemiplegia can occur due to oxygen deprivation during a placental abruption, but often is caused by a partial-prolonged reduction or loss of oxygenation to a baby in utero. This can occur due to overuse of drugs such as Pitocin (oxytocin), which causes extremely strong contractions of the uterus. Too frequent or too strong of contractions can cut off the supply of oxygen-rich blood flowing from the mother to the baby during labor.

Another mechanism of hemiplegic injury can occur with Pitocin in which the baby is forced down an inadequately sized birth canal, causing compression of the baby's head during labor. Increased compression can cause increased pressure in a baby's skull, which can cause a reduction in the flow of oxygenated blood to a baby's brain. This can also occur when forceps or other operative methods are used to expedite deliveries.

A protracted or long labor can cause these types of birth injuries, and it is important that everyone is aware of the dangers of these types of drugs and the conditions, like hemiplegia, that can occur as a result.

If you suspect your child has been a victim of obstetrical malpractice, and has hemiplegia or another type of cerebral palsy, you may wish to consult with an experience birth injury attorney in Chicago. Beam Legal Team has experience in dealing with these types of cases, and has obtained record verdicts for children who are victims of medical malpractice at birth.

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