Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
What Does It Mean for My Child?
Diagnosing cerebral palsy is more difficult with babies and very young children. However, the sooner you identify the problem, the sooner you can start addressing it. The brain is growing quickly at younger ages and able to learn quickly. If possible, that is when you want to help train it to overcome your child's disabilities.
According to National Institutes of Health (NIH),
early signs of cerebral palsy
may be present from birth. Most children with cerebral palsy are diagnosed during the first 2 years of life. But if a child's
cerebral palsy symptoms
are mild, it can be difficult for a doctor to make a reliable diagnosis before the age of 4 or 5.
Diagnosing cerebral palsy is accomplished by evaluating a child's motor skills and taking a careful and thorough look at their medical history. In addition to checking for the most characteristic symptoms, such as slow development, abnormal muscle tone, and unusual posture, a doctor must also rule out other disorders that could cause similar symptoms.
Diagnosing cerebral palsy also requires determining that the child's condition is not getting worse. Although symptoms may change over time,
cerebral palsy by definition
is not progressive. If a child is continuously losing motor skills or other function, the problem likely begins elsewhere, such as a genetic or muscle disease, metabolism disorder, or tumors in the nervous system.
Additional tests such as cranial ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRI) are often used to rule out other movement disorders that can cause the same symptoms as cerebral palsy. These neuro-imaging techniques allow doctors to detect brain abnormalities that indicate a potentially treatable disorder. If it is cerebral palsy, an MRI scan can also show a doctor the location and type of brain damage.
Other types of disorders can also cause symptoms characteristic of cerebral palsy. Coagulation disorders (which prevent blood from clotting) can cause prenatal or perinatal strokes that damage the brain. Because stroke is so often the cause of
hemiplegic cerebral palsy,
diagnosing cerebral palsy is only possible after the doctor has performed diagnostic testing to rule out the presence of a coagulation disorder. If left undiagnosed, coagulation disorders can cause additional strokes and more extensive brain damage.
Through the use of these techniques, diagnosing cerebral palsy early can allow you to focus on making your child better, sooner.
As we know, cerebral palsy is a devastating diagnosis to receive.
But, there is hope for your child.
To learn more about Cerebral Palsy, please investigate the following links:
Click here for the Cerebral Palsy Guide
Click here for Cerebral Palsy Causes
Click here for Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Click here for Cerebral Palsy Prognosis
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