Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis – What Tests Are Involved?

In order to properly diagnose cerebral palsy (CP) there needs to be a series of tests run.  The tests consist of many physical and neurological tests.  A child is usually diagnosed at an early stage because the symptoms become more evident then.  For example, delays in a child’s development and problems moving are the first signs that are connected to cerebral palsy.  These can be recognized within the first couple years after birth.  If your child if experiencing developmental delays or other abnormal symptoms you need to take your child to see a medical specialist to be evaluated.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

CP is a group of disorders affecting a person’s movements.  What actually causes brain damage is unknown however CP is caused by damage to the brain.  In some situations brain damage can occur during labor and delivery.  This is called medical malpractice.

Every year thousands of babies and children get diagnosed with CP.  In some of these cases, the condition could have been prevented if proper procedures were followed.

How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?

Diagnosing CP requires a series of tests performed by a doctor.  The following tests listed are used to make a diagnosis:

Reflex tests – Plantar, Moro Reflex, and rooting flexes are tests given to diagnose CP.  For instance, infants experience the Moro Reflex (a kind of reflex) when they are startled, however if the reflexes persist into early childhood they need to be taken for these tests. 

Hand preference test – After one year of age a child normally will favor one hand over the other however if you child is showing hand preference before age one it can be a symptom of cerebral palsy.  In cases where children have hemiplegia, one side of the body is stronger.

Computed tomography, CT scan – CT scans are used to take images of the brain. Doctors can determine any lack of development or damage to the brain.

Electroencephalography, EEG – With this test doctors can identify the presence of any seizures.  Seizures are common in cerebral palsy.

Magnetic resonance imaging, MRI – MRI scans are given to test any abnormalities in the brain. 

Other tests may be given depending on your child’s symptoms.  A physical exam will be given and the tone of their muscles will be looked at and other developmental delays along with their medical history all will be considered.

After a Diagnosis

If your child has received a CP diagnosis and it is possible the injury occurred during or after birth you should take your case to a medical malpractice attorney.  They will evaluate your case for free and if they determine the cause of your child’s condition was medical neglect they will then advise you of your legal rights.