How is cerebral palsy diagnosed?
Cerebral palsy is difficult to diagnose during early infancy. As the baby matures, poor development, weakness, spasticity, or lack of coordination becomes noticeable. The tracking of developmental progress is the most important test the physician has in determining whether a child has cerebral palsy. Most children with CP can be confidently diagnosed by 18 months. However, diagnosing CP is not always easy, since variations in child development may account for delays in
achieving milestones, and since even children who are obviously delayed may continue to progress through the various developmental stages, and attain a normal range of skills later on. Serious or prolonged childhood illness may cause delays that are made up later on.
Evidence of other risk factors may aid the diagnosis. The Apgar score, evaluated immediately after birth, measures the newborn's heart rate, cry, color, muscle tone, and motor reactions. Apgar scores of less than 3 out a possible 10 are associated with a highly increased risk for CP. Presence of abnormal muscle tone or movements may signal CP, as may the persistence of infantile reflexes. A child with seizures or congenital organ malformation has an increased likelihood of CP. Ultrasound examination, a diagnostic technique that creates a two-dimensional image of internal body structures, may help to identify brain abnormalities, such as enlarged ventricles (chambers containing fluid) or periventricular leukomalacia (an abnormality of the area surrounding the ventricles), which may be associated with CP.
MRI of the brain is the preferred test, since it defines brain structures and abnormalities more clearly than any other method. Children who are unable to remain still for at least 45 minutes may require a sedative to undergo this test. Ultrasound uses harmless sound waves to detect certain types of structural and anatomic abnormalities. For instance, it can show hemorrhage (bleeding) in the brain or damage caused by lack of oxygen to the brain. Ultrasound is often used on newborns who cannot tolerate more rigorous tests such as CT scans or MRI. CT scan of the brain is similar to an x-ray but shows greater detail and gives a more 3-dimensional image. It identifies malformations, hemorrhage, and certain other abnormalities in infants more clearly than ultrasound.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) traces electrical activity in the brain and can reveal patterns that suggest a seizure disorder. Electromyography and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) studies are helpful when a nerve or muscle disorder is suspected. NCV is administered before EMG and measures the speed at which nerves transmit electrical signals. EMG measures nerve impulses within the muscles. Tiny electrodes are placed in the muscles in the arms and legs and the electronic responses are observed using an instrument that displays movement of an electric current (oscilloscope). As muscles contract, they emit a weak electrical signal that can be detected, amplified, and tracked, providing information about how well the muscles are working.
More information on cerebral palsy
What is cerebral palsy? - Cerebral palsy or CP is bilateral, symmetrical, nonprogressive paralysis resulting from developmental defects in brain or trauma at birth.
What're the types of cerebral palsy? - Cerebral palsy includes a variety of conditions. There are four main types of cerebral palsy - spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed.
What's spastic cerebral palsy? - Spastic cerebral palsy is an abnormality of muscle tone in which one or more extremities (arm or leg) is held in a rigid posture.
What's ataxic cerebral palsy? - Children with ataxic cerebral palsy have difficulty making rapid or fine movements and walk unsteadily, with their legs widely spaced.
What's athetoid or dyskinetic cerebral palsy? - Athetoid or dyskinetic cerebral palsy is a mixture of muscle tone which is too tight or loose.
What's mixed cerebral palsy? - Mixed forms of cerebral palsy exist in that it is common for patients to have more than one form of cerebral palsy.
What causes cerebral palsy? - Cerebral palsy is a functional disorder caused by damage to the brain during pregnancy, delivery, or shortly after birth.
What're the risk factors for cerebral palsy? - Risk factors linked with cerebral palsy include infection, seizure disorder, thyroid disorder, birth defects, Rh factor incompatibility.
Influence of cerebral palsy on children's development? - Children with cerebral palsy have varying degrees of physical disability and may also have associated medical problems.
How is cerebral palsy diagnosed? - Cerebral palsy is difficult to diagnose during early infancy. Evidence of other risk factors may aid the diagnosis.
What's the treatment for cerebral palsy? - Comprehensive treatment of cerebral palsy requires a multidisciplinary team approach to help maximize and coordinate movement, minimize discomfort and pain.
Treatments for conditions associated with cerebral palsy? - Spasticity, muscle coordination, ataxia, and scoliosis are all significant impairments that affect the posture and mobility of a person with cerebral palsy.
Education programs for children with cerebral palsy - Children with cerebral palsy grow normally and attend regular schools if they do not have severe intellectual and physical disabilities.
Is a cerebral palsy lawyer/attorney necessary? - A experienced cerebral palsy lawyer or attoney may provide you some good advices in determining a course of action nd the best solution for the cerebral palsy treatment program.