Cerebral Palsy: Diagnosis And Treatment Options

Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy

There is currently no test at this time to definitively identify cerebral palsy or CP. The diagnosis is based on a combination of a physical exam and the medical history of the patient. The patient’s motor skills are evaluated to help determine if any symptoms are present. CP is often easier diagnosed in children who have been seriously affected. The diagnosis can sometimes be made when the child is only a few months old. Approximately 43 percent of all CP cases are diagnosed at this time and most by the time the child is a year old. The children who have been mildly affected may not be diagnosed until they are three or four.

The Tests For Cerebral Palsy

Computed tomography or CT scans as well as magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scans are used to find any abnormality in the brain of an infant. There are specific lab tests capable of ruling out numerous biochemical disorders that are involved with the motor system. This includes Tay-Sachs disease.

The Treatments Capabilities

CP is a lifelong condition without a cure. The treatments available can increase capabilities, motor functions and independence. It is possible to have a near normal life if you have CP. This depends on the individuals symptoms.

Surgery For Cerebral Palsy

Surgery can correct muscle contractures when the muscles are spastic or too short. The muscle is lengthened during surgery. Spinal nerves can also be severed to reduce any spasticity within the legs.

Medications are often used to treat problems with muscles. Muscle spasticity is controlled with dantrolene, baclofen and diazepam and abnormal movements are controlled with anticholinergic drugs. Botox or alcohol injections can temporarily reduce spasticity so the muscles can be lengthened. When Baclofen is used in your spinal canal spasticity can often be controlled for long periods of time. There are also a variety of drugs available for the control of seizures.

Physical Therapy For Cerebral Palsy

Physical therapy consisting of specific exercises can improve strength and movement. When a child has CP their muscles do not grow and stretch normally. As the child grows the differences in bone and muscle growth interfere with motor ability. Physical therapy can help combat these problems. Physical therapists often recommend an orthotic brace. This holds the bones in specific positions to help stretch the child’s muscles. A speech synthesizer will aid in a child’s communication.

Occupational Therapy For Cerebral Palsy

This type of therapy will help in the development of fine motor skills. Speech therapy is used for problems involving communication. Counseling is available from a psychologist or a social worker to help both the child and their family cope with the ramifications of the child’s condition and the special services required.