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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

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Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Birth Paralysis – Types

Paralysis at birth can happen for many reasons. It may be due to a medical condition, infection or an injury during delivery. Just as there are many reasons for paralysis, there are many types of paralysis as well.

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What is Paralysis?

Before you can understand the types of paralysis that can occur, you need to understand what paralysis is. It is a symptom rather than a condition in itself. Paralysis happens due to a medical condition, which may be congenital or occur through infection or injury. .

Paralysis means that the person is unable to move one or more parts of the body. It may be temporary or permanent, and it usually occurs because of damage to the nerves. They have either been severed, partially torn or stretched, resulting in an inability to send messages to the muscles. .

While many cases of paralysis include a loss of feeling, this is not always the case. A person may have some sensation in the area that has been paralyzed. The brain is unable to send messages or receive them back..

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Types of Paralysis

There are many different kinds of paralysis, but they all fall under four main categories.

Monoplegia - With this type of paralysis, one body part is affected, which is usually one of the limbs. The person can move and function with the rest of the body, including the opposite limb. However, they have lost some or all of the movement of the affected limb. This condition is often seen when a baby or other person suffers a stroke or has a tumor pressing on a nerve. It may occur with other nerve damage as well. It may be temporary until the body recovers, but it can also be permanent if the nerves have been severed.

Hemiplegia - With this type, one side of the body is paralyzed, affecting both the arm and leg. One of the most common conditions for this symptom is cerebral palsy. The degree of paralysis may vary based on the condition, and it may improve or worsen with time.

In many cases, hemiplegia begins with the person feeling numbness in the one side of the body or pins and needles with it moving on to weakness in those limbs. It can become complete paralysis over time. However, hemiplegia may also be temporary, and the person may recover.

Paraplegia - When a person has paraplegia, it means they are unable to move their legs and feet. It affects everything below the waist, including elimination. Many people believe this means they have no feeling or ability to walk, but this is not always the case. The true definition of this type of paralysis is impaired movement and function.

The most common cause of paraplegia is a spinal cord injury or infection. When the spinal cord has been damaged, it is unable to send or receive messages anywhere below where the injury occurred. Most people do not fully recover from the condition, though physical therapy can work to retrain the brain and strengthen nerve connections to restore some function.

Other causes of paraplegia include infections in the brain and deprivation of oxygen to the spinal cord or the brain. A stroke may also cause paraplegia, though this is less common.


Also known as tetraplegia, this type of paralysis affects all four limbs and all areas of the body below the neck. The level of paralysis may vary day to day and from one person to another. In some cases, physical therapy is able to retrain the brain to help the person regain some function.

While quadriplegia may be temporary, it is most often a permanent condition. One of the most common situations is when a person is injured with damage to the spinal cord. At first, they may lose feeling and function from the neck down until the swelling is reduced. Then, they regain some movement and may end up with paraplegia. Surgery may also repair some of the damage for the person to regain limited function.

The most common cause of quadriplegia is spinal cord injuries. Brain injuries may also result in this condition as well as loss of oxygen and major nerve damage through the entire body. An allergic reaction to a drug could also result in quadriplegia as well as congenital abnormalities.

For newborns, injuries that occur during birth may result in one type of paralysis. The infant may be born with a condition or suffer a stroke. They may also be deprived of oxygen due to a tangled umbilical cord or spending too long of a time in the birth canal.

If you are a parent of a child who has suffered birth paralysis of any type, you may be entitled to compensation if it happened due to negligence on the part of medical staff.