Cerebral palsy early assessments & screenings are an important step in the process to get a diagnosis. Getting a cerebral palsy diagnosis as early as possible allows the child to qualify for early intervention programs and begin therapy to address muscle strength, motor control, developmental concerns, speech and language, and other problems.
Pediatricians often discover the first signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy during an assessment of the baby’s motor milestones. These assessments generally occur during each office visit and include both a check of the child’s age-appropriate motor development and asking parents questions about the child’s activities. Because doctors see infants frequently, they can monitor the child’s progress and take action if they see a significant delay.
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Parents Play an Important Role in Cerebral Palsy Early Assessments & Screenings
Cerebral palsy affects every child differently, and there is a wide range of signs and symptoms of CP that could indicate this or another birth injury. For that reason, doctors keep a close eye on a baby’s development. The first signs of cerebral palsy can happen when the baby is less than a year old and misses reaching certain developmental milestones related to motor and movement.
While there are many reasons a child might have a delay reaching a milestone, missing several could indicate a problem. Some of the signs your child’s doctor may ask you about or evaluate during an appointment may include:
In Babies Less Than Six Months Old
- Struggling with head control beyond the age when most babies do
- Feeling too stiff or floppy when held
- Overextending the back and neck when held
- Legs that stiffen and cross at the knees when you pick them up
In Babies Over Six Months Old
- Cannot roll over from back to stomach or stomach to back
- Cannot clap or bring hands together
- Struggles to put hands in mouth
- Uses only one hand and keeps the other in a fist
In Babies Over Ten Months Old
- Does not crawl
- Crawls using only one hand and one leg, dragging the other
- Scoots sitting up or on knees instead of crawling
Some of these your doctor can test for in the office. Others, however, will come in the form of questions your doctor will ask about your child’s development. If you have concerns about your child, take notes or video of the behavior to share with the doctor. Having a video of an unusual crawl or hand position, for example, can help the doctor understand your concern better.
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Screenings and Evaluations to Confirm a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis
If your doctor has a reason to believe your child may have cerebral palsy based on their early assessments, they will likely conduct a developmental screening or refer them to a specialist for screening. This screening for cerebral palsy will help them learn about any specific developmental delays your child may have. They screen for issues with motor control or purposeful movement, for example.
If this screening confirms the doctor’s suspicions, they will most likely refer your child for medical evaluations of their developmental delays and impairments. These medical evaluations may include:
- Medical imaging to document brain injury
- Tests to better understand their current status and level of development
- Tests to rule out other conditions
- Vision and hearing screenings
- Test for commonly co-occurring conditions
It is during these developmental, medical evaluations that the doctor will officially diagnose your child and explain the specific type of cerebral palsy they have. These evaluations also play a key role in qualifying for early intervention services. Following their diagnosis, your child’s doctors will work with therapists and others to create a treatment plan that addresses your child’s specific needs.
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Your Child’s CP Diagnosis May Support a Valid Birth Injury Legal Claim
If a doctor caused or failed to prevent your child’s cerebral palsy, or if they missed the diagnosis and your child suffered additional complications, you may have a valid medical malpractice case. There are also other ways that medical care providers may be liable in this type of case.
To learn more about your rights and the strength of your case, discuss your options with a cerebral palsy birth injury lawyer who handles this type of medical malpractice case.
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Connect With a Cerebral Palsy Birth Injury Attorney Near You
The Birth Injury Lawyers Group can introduce you to a cerebral palsy attorney today. We can connect you with a law firm that regularly handles cases like yours near you and help you schedule your free initial consultation with a member of their team.
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