Screening For Cerebral Palsy

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Cerebral palsy is a term used to describe a group of chronic conditions affecting body movements and muscle coordination. Nearly two children out of every thousand in the United States have some type of cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy disorders are caused by damage to a child's brain early in the course of development. The damage can occur during fetal development, during the birth process, or during the first few months after birth.

The affects caused by cerebral palsy can range from mild to severe. There may be physical signs such as challenges in walking, involuntary movements, communication problems. Typically, parents start to become aware during the developmental stages in infancy when milestones are not being met. Examples of some common milestones are holding up his/her head, smiling, crawling, walking, speaking. Every child develops at their own unique pace, however a severe delay in development should be assessed by a physician. Luckily, during the first two years of life, most doctors will check for motor milestones frequently.

It may seem that every day your baby is doing something new and adorable. As previously stated, your doctor should test your baby often to be sure that he/she is reaching the age appropriate motor milestones. Typically there are three tests, one being the Revised-Denver Pre-screening Developmental Questionnaire (R-DPDQ), the second is the Early Motor Pattern Profile (EMPP), and lastly the The R-DPDQ which is a form generally filled out by the parents. If at some point the doctors become concerned about your child's development rate, they may ask you to return for further testing.

Brain imaging may be the next step for your son or daughter. Test such as an ultrasound, a computed tomography, or CT scan, and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test may be used to screen babies for CP. Through further examining the brain, a physician can sometimes detect an injury to the brain that is causing the cerebral palsy. In some cases, however, there may be no apparent brain abnormalities, while the child continues to suffer from mild CP.

A CT scan can be preformed to check the structure of your child's brain. The radiologist will be able to see if there are any deformities in the brain tissue causing the damage, and if there is, where the impairment exists and how extensive it is.

An MRI is also beneficial in diagnosing a cerebral palsy disorder. A cylindrical MRI scanner uses no X-rays, but instead, a computer creates tissue-slice images of the brain from data generated by a powerful magnetic field and radio waves. These images can be viewed from any direction or plane giving the doctors a much better view of each level and pathway in the brain.

The treatments offered to children dealing cerebral palsy can greatly affect their future if implemented early enough. While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, early intervention and treatment will help the child be able to live a more fulfilling life making tasks such as walking or even talking easier. Speech therapy will greatly improve the speech of children whose facial muscles have been affected, and physical therapy is paramount in helping some cerebral palsy sufferers get enough muscle tone to bear weight so they may walk.

Whereas, all of the direct causes of cerebral palsy are unknown, one cause of cerebral palsy is a birth injury. Injuries can occur when there is a problem during delivery that cuts off oxygen to the baby. Doctors can contribute to a child developing cerebral palsy disorder when they use excessive force or misuse instruments that are supposed to help the delivery such as a vacuum extractor.

If you believe that your child has a cerebral palsy disorder due to the negligence of a physician, it is important that you contact an experienced birth-injury lawyer. This lawyer will be able to determine if your case is valid. They will also be able to improve your chances of receiving compensation for your child's medical bills and future necessary treatments.


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