Diagnosis Of Cerebral Palsy

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Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a combination of neurological disorders involving problems with muscle function, muscle tone, and other serious disabilities. The condition usually comes about by a lack of oxygen reaching the brain, and can result in mild to severe cases of CP. Other ways babies can acquire cerebral palsy is through damage inflicted by an infection, contracted by the mother while the baby is in the uterus or directly after birth. It can also happen from a medical error during birth. When a doctor needs to exert more force than is usually necessary to get a baby out of the birth canal, there is a chance that the force or the instruments the physician uses to assist them may cause irreversible brain damage.

A classification or diagnosis of cerebral palsy is often difficult to make during the earliest stages of a child's life. Some of the signs and symptoms are so slight that it may take months or years to recognize that a child has the disorder. Some of the more minor signs may be when a child has difficulty holding simple objects, performing simple tasks, or not reaching developmental milestones on time. If a child has seizures, leg jerks, or tremors, a visit to the doctor is definitely warranted, as these are all early signs of CP. Only an experienced physician or a specialist such as a neurologist will be able to determine if a child has cerebral palsy.

A diagnosis of cerebral palsy is not made overnight, however. There are many steps physicians take before classifying your child with CP. To begin, doctors will take a complete history, including a family history from the parents. A physician will then question the parents on the developmental milestones the child has attained, problems during delivery, or any infections or illnesses the mother may have had during pregnancy.

The doctor will then do a complete physical examination. They will test the child's motor skills, posture, and weight bearing capability. The physician will pay close attention to how the body reacts to certain postures and if the child favors one side over the other. More tests may be necessary to rule out other diseases or medical conditions that could be causing the child's problems. A CT scan may be ordered so that the doctor or neurologist can examine the child's brain to see if there are any blockages or masses present. An MRI may also be ordered. This test is similar to a CT scan but is more detailed, showing the different layers of the human brain and allowing the radiologist a much better view of the brain tissue. Intelligent tests may also be ordered if the child is old enough to complete them. These tests will allow the doctors to see if there is any other brain damage that will affect the child's mental capabilities. A diagnosis of cerebral palsy will only be given after a complete round of tests has been done and evaluated along with a review of the mother's pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

The main difference between CP and other possible diseases or conditions the child may have is the fact that CP is not progressive, meaning it does not get worse over time. If you recognize that your child is continuously losing motor skills, the problem is most likely a genetic, muscle, or metabolism disease, or possibly a tumor in the nervous system.

A diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy may mean that the family needs to make some definite changes. Physical or speech therapy may be necessary to help the child as they mature, and medical bills for testing and therapy can be very expensive. If there is a possibility that your child's cerebral palsy was brought on by an injury that occurred during birth or by a mistake made by a physician, you should contact an attorney. Attorneys that are experienced in birth injury litigation are your best line of defense when it comes to your rights and options when filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.


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