Spastic diplegia, sometimes referred to as Little’s Disease, is a type of spastic cerebral palsy affecting movement of either the upper or lower half of the body. Like other types of cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia is caused by damage to the brain.
In most cases, the damage is due to unknown causes and the condition is present at birth (that is, it’s congenital).
However, there are cases in which spastic diplegia is acquired after birth or because of injuries sustained during the delivery process. For instance, spastic diplegia is sometimes caused by:
• Preventable or treatable infant or maternal infections
• Lack of oxygen supply resulting in hypoxia , anoxia or asphyxia
• Hematoma – bruising of the brain or brain hemorrhage
• Other brain injury sustained during delivery (often a result of difficult labor)
When a child’s spastic diplegia is caused by a preventable medical error, parents can take legal action to obtain money for medical expenses and other costs. If your baby was diagnosed with spastic diplegia after a difficult or traumatic delivery, you should have your case evaluated by an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer as soon as possible.
The symptoms of spastic diplegia will vary from child-to-child and depend on the severity of the condition. Despite variations between patients, spastic diplegia is primarily characterized by abnormally tight muscle tone (hypertonia) that results in stiff, inflexible or permanently contracted muscles. Hypertonia may affect the limbs of the upper body, but it most commonly affects the legs.
A child with spastic diplegia may display the following symptoms:
• Uncontrollable muscle spasms
• Joint contractures (limited range of motion in the joints)
• Difficulty walking or stiffness in gait
• Tight, inflexible muscles
• Awkward or abnormal movements on either the upper or lower half of the body
• Developmental delays (involving crawling, walking, sitting upright, etc.)
Children who display any of symptoms of spastic diplegia should be seen by a physician. Diagnosis of spastic diplegia usually involves MRI, CT scan, EEG and certain other tests.
Spastic diplegia, though not curable, can be helped with various treatments. Common spastic diplegia treatments include:
• Physical therapy to exercise and stretch muscles for increased flexibility and range of motion
• Medications such as Botox, phenol and baclofen to reduce muscle spasticity
• Surgery to inhibit muscle spasticity
• Assistive technology such as specialized wheelchairs, walkers and scooters to increase or aid in mobility
These treatments will also help with other types of spastic cerebral palsy, such as spastic monoplegia, spastic hemiplegia, spastic triplegia and spastic quadriplegia.
Not every child with spastic diplegia is entitled to compensation, but you may have a legal claim if medical negligence or malpractice contributed to your child’s condition. If your child:
• Was born by way of C-section or with the help of vacuum extraction or forceps
• Suffered jaundice or seizures after birth
• Was treated for an infection in the hospital
— you should speak with an attorney. Contact Burke & Eisner today for a free case evaluation.
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