The symptoms and signs of cerebral palsy typically worsen over time, but your child will generally be diagnosed with it when they are a few months old. If your doctor suspects that your child has this condition, they will send you for several tests. Once these are finished, they will discuss potential treatment options with you. If you face this condition, it is important that you learn everything you need to know and how to proceed.
Often, laboratory tests will be conducted before a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy to rule out any other conditions. This will involve testing their blood, urine, and skin for genetic or metabolic problems.
Brain scans reveal areas with damage or abnormalities within the brain. The most common way cerebral palsy is diagnosed is with the scanning technology known as an MRI. This machine will use a magnetic field and radio waves to create a 3D image of the brain. This allows for any lesions or abnormalities to be easily detected.
Another brain scan that you can do is a cranial ultrasound. These are often done on young infants. This technology uses sound waves to create an image of your child’s brain. While the image is not overly detailed, it is a great way to conduct a preliminary test to see if further testing is needed.
If seizures are suspected, another scan you can do is an EEG that will evaluate their condition. However, this is more commonly used to diagnose or rule out epilepsy. An EEG involves attaching electrodes to your child’s head and monitoring their brain activity.
When your child has been diagnosed with this condition, you can expect several other tests to identify the disorder’s potential side effects. These will examine your child’s vision, speech, hearing, intellect, development, and movement.
Medications are the most common method used to relax muscles, improve functional ability, and reduce pain. Muscle and nerve injections are a common option for patients where cerebral palsy affects a specific area or muscle. These injections are done approximately every three months. If the condition affects multiple areas, your doctor will likely instruct you to give your child oral muscle relaxers instead.
Physical therapy will typically be used alongside medications for treating cerebral palsy. Muscle training provided by a physical therapist is a good option for improving your child’s strength, balance, flexibility, mobility, and overall functionality. This is also a good option because physical therapists will help you understand how to care for your child at home.
Surgical procedures may be required to correct bone abnormalities or lessen muscle tightness. Orthopedic surgery is the most common form. This is for children with severe deformities and will help place their limbs and bones in the correct locations.
Another option is cutting nerve fibers. This is typically a last resort in severe cases where other treatment forms are not reducing muscle spasticity. While this relaxes the muscles and reduces pain, it can have serious side effects and may require research on a medical malpractice website, such as bergerlagnese.com.
What to Ask
When your doctor first brings up this condition, you may wonder, “what is cerebral palsy?” While this is a valid question, it is also good to ask what type of tests are recommended, when you will know the results, what specialists you will need to see, how you will monitor the child’s health and development, what educational materials you should read, and if a cerebral palsy clinic is right for your child.
A cerebral palsy diagnosis is often caught in the first few months after your child is born. To ensure you react to the situation properly, it is wise to educate yourself on the condition.