Doctors generally diagnose cerebral palsy during the first two years of a child’s life. When there are concerns about the child’s movement or motor delays, a doctor will evaluate the child and may order testing. In some cases, cerebral palsy is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning the doctor will rule out other causes before definitively diagnosing cerebral palsy.
In some cases, doctors may suspect cerebral palsy or a related condition earlier because the child has co-occurring conditions such as epilepsy or vision or hearing problems. The cerebral palsy evaluation will also need to look at these concerns as well as the possibility of intellectual delays, speech and eating concerns, and behavioral problems.
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Raising Initial Concerns About the Possibility of Cerebral Palsy
Routine screenings with a child’s doctor play a key role in recognizing a problem with a child’s motor development and getting a cerebral palsy diagnosis. Getting a diagnosis as early as possible allows for early intervention and therapy to begin quickly. This early diagnosis may prevent the child’s impairments from having a substantial impact on their education or social development.
Whether or not there are known risk factors for cerebral palsy, all babies should undergo regular developmental monitoring, sometimes called surveillance, by their pediatrician. This surveillance tracks:
- The child’s growth and size
- Developmental milestones
- Any individual concerns based on previous surveillance or the child’s medical history
If there are any significant concerns about the child’s development or motor skills during one of these evaluations, the doctor should order additional screening tests. These tests will address specific concerns, determining if there is a reason to be concerned about the child’s motor development, ability to hit developmental milestones, or other issues.
If this screening does uncover a cause for concern, the doctor should refer the child for additional evaluations and testing, often from a specialist.
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Understanding Developmental Evaluation Testing Used for a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis
In most cases, doctors catch signs of cerebral palsy before the child reaches age two. However, it is not always an easy condition to diagnose, especially in mild cases. The age of the patient may play a role in how a primary care pediatrician or specialist evaluates the child and the tests they use to diagnose cerebral palsy.
While some pediatricians conduct developmental evaluations to diagnose cerebral palsy on their own, many refer the child to a specialist. These specialists may include:
- Developmental pediatricians
- Pediatric neurologists
- Pediatric physiatrists
- Pediatric rehabilitation specialists
These doctors will further evaluate the child’s motor development and rule out a number of causes for similar symptoms. They will conduct specific tests to determine the child’s impairments. In addition, they will run medical tests to understand if and where there is damage to the brain, as well as other potential causes of brain damage. Medical testing may include:
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Electroencephalogram (EEG)
- Genetic testing
- Metabolic testing
Depending on what they discover, this could confirm a cerebral palsy diagnosis or show that a genetic or metabolic condition caused the symptoms the child experiences. The result of these tests can also confirm where the brain damage occurred and help the doctors put a plan in place to address the child’s specific needs.
Early intervention and therapies can begin almost immediately. They will address the child’s individual needs as documented during screening and evaluation.
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A Missed Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis May Support a Birth Injury Case
Cerebral palsy can support a medical malpractice case in several ways. If your child’s doctor or other medical care provider caused or failed to prevent their brain injury, or if they missed your child’s diagnosis, you may be eligible to pursue compensation. This compensation could cover medical bills, ongoing care costs, medical equipment, pain and suffering, and more.
A birth injury lawyer can evaluate your case for free and explain your rights based on the facts of your case. They will also help you build a case for compensation if you qualify. They may be able to negotiate an out-of-court settlement or represent you at trial.
Your lawyer can also explain how long you have to take legal action based on the statute of limitations and other laws in your state.
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Talk to a Birth Injury Lawyer Today
If your child has cerebral palsy and you have questions about the cause or their diagnosis, discussing your case with a birth injury lawyer is your best option to learn if your child was the victim of medical malpractice. Most birth injury lawyers offer free initial consultations.
At the Birth Injury Lawyers Group, we can get you more information about possibly pursuing compensation to help pay for your child’s care. For a free case review, call (800) 222-9529 today to get started.