How Is The Diagnosis Of Cerebral Palsy Made?

Cerebral Palsy is a disorder than can affect youngsters and infants. There are a number of causes associated with this disease, including congenital and acquired causes. Sometimes, the cause of cerebral palsy is unknown. The symptoms that could indicate cerebral palsy can vary, and these are usually first identified by the parents of the child, although in some cases it may be a doctor or even a teacher that first notices the possible signs.

There are a number of signs and symptoms that are associated with cerebral palsy, and could therefore lead to the diagnosis of this disease. Some of these symptoms include:

·       Lethargy or lack of concentration
·       Irritability in excess
·       Arms and leg trembles
·       Poor muscle tone, swallowing, and sucking abilities
·       Seizures and twitching
·       Staring spells
·       Slow or abnormal reflexes

Muscle tone and posture can also indicate cerebral palsy, and some of the signs that could lead to a diagnosis through posture and muscle tone include:

·       The child tightly clenching his or her fists regularly
·       Muscle tone changes from floppy to stiff
·       The child may move one side of the body more easily than the other

A cerebral palsy child will usually develop movement and co-ordination more slowly than other children, and many parents or professionals pick this up when the child reaches about six months of age. A diagnosis of cerebral palsy could result from a parent or professional noticing that the child is very slow at picking up things such as crawling, sitting, up, and even responses and reflexes.

Diagnosing cerebral palsy from these symptoms isn’t always easy or straightforward. Other diagnoses may be made initially by some doctors, such as developmental problems and delays, a problem with the central nervous system, or an issue with motor skills and movement. Doctors may not be keen to jump in with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. It could be that the undamaged areas of the child’s brain, and the inefficient areas of the nervous system, will improve with time. This makes it difficult for doctors to make a fast diagnosis, because during the first few years a child’s motor skills, co-ordination, and muscle tone can change dramatically.

In order to effectively diagnose cerebral palsy, a child’s development and symptoms have to be carefully monitored. This is normally done by an interdisciplinary team, which is made up of health professionals that have expertise in different areas. Collectively, this team can effectively monitor and evaluate the symptoms that could indicate cerebral palsy. Evaluation of the child by the interdisciplinary team enables health professionals to make comparisons with regards to the child’s development. The child’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses are all evaluated by the team, better enabling an accurate diagnosis and enabling the parents and health professionals to cater for the child’s needs in the future.

The diagnosis of cerebral palsy entails regular assessments of the child, and these ongoing assessments are used to make comparisons and calculate what the developmental needs and issues are. It is important for health professionals to consider and rule out any other illnesses or disorders that may be contributing to the child’s symptoms. In order to diagnose cerebral palsy, when other disorders have been ruled out, the doctor will perform a number of assessments. This includes assessments and comparisons of the child’s motor skills, assessment and evaluation of the child’s medical history and any problems experienced by the mother whilst pregnant, assessment of muscle tone, evaluation and comparisons of development in a variety of areas, , assessment of posture, and testing of reflexes. It is the careful assessment and evaluation of all of these factors in combination that will enable the doctor to make an effective diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

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