Improving Rehabilitation for Children with Cerebral Palsy

05 September 2017

As clinical lawyers no matter how experienced you are, many of us shed an initial tear when we first see our clients who have been injured and have developed cerebral palsy. We have to then put our strong professional hat on again and switch immediately to how can we make life better for our client?

While the NHS buries their head in their hands about birth injury and refuse to engage in appropriate rehabilitation, children in the UK who suffer brain injuries that affect their lower limb strength continue to suffer unnecessarily. It is for the lawyers to put things right.

It is a known fact that there is only about a 50 per cent chance that a child with cerebral palsy will still be able to walk as an adult. This is because cerebral palsy can often adversely affect gait and the strength in the knees. As the child grows and the torso gets heavier the lower limbs cannot hold the increased weight and sometimes leads to complete loss of the ability to walk.

An article in the New Scientist explores an effective solution to this restriction.

The option may be Robotic Exoskeletons. Development is ongoing in to this potential solution. It already gets used in some therapy clinics in the USA, but so far the truly mobile exoskeleton that is lightweight enough to give the child independence is only on trial in Maryland.

Hopefully in early course the advances of the mobile exoskeleton will be adopted by the NHS for rehabilitation purposes. If not it should be considered by occupational therapists and mobility and rehabilitation experts and built into the costs of the claim. The advances being adopted by the rehabilitation charities such as Help for Heroes mean that it is likely to be used in therapeutic practice there first.

For the NHS the start-up cost may be significant but if a child remains mobile into adulthood the costs of care will be reduced meaning greater long term savings for the NHS. In times of cash shortage due often to inefficiencies, this type of intervention has the prospect being mutually beneficial.

Looking beyond the field of cerebral palsy, it may be similarly useful in maintaining independence in conditions such as spina bifida or improving the rehabilitation time in other lower limb ligament and serious muscular tears and ruptures. There is little doubt that investment in better rehabilitation will in the longer term save significant cash for the NHS.

Jerard Knott Associate Solicitor – Head of Clinical Negligence and Serious Injury APIL Accredited Clinical Negligence Specialist The Medical and Serious Injury Team at Curtis Law is led by Jerard Knott, Associate Solicitor. We are committed to promoting Patient Safety. The team only acts for Claimants and is dedicated to providing a client care centered high level of service, providing the best possible advice and maximising damages. The department acts on a large number of fatal (including representation at Inquests) and high value cases. The department regularly advises on cases with valuation exceeding £1,000,000. We can be contacted on 01254 297130 or

Jerard Knott

Head of Medical Negligence and Serious Injury

APIL Accredited Clinical Negligence Specialist