Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis May Come Earlier With New Method

A new breakthrough in diagnosing cerebral palsy may allow doctors to identify cases shortly after children are born, leading to nearly immediate treatment for the disability. 

Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder that is caused by damage to the brain before, during or shortly after birth. While the signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy in an infant may be subtle, the disability is typically not diagnosed until at least 18 months, after children fail to reach normal developmental milestones.

A new diagnosis method may soon change that, allowing doctors to discover much earlier when children may have cerebral palsy.

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Known as the “General Movements Assessment”, this new method for diagnosing cerebral palsy was tested by Australian researchers and recently presented at the 3rd annual International Cerebral Palsy Summit in Vienna.

The cerebral palsy diagnosis test was put into place at hospitals across Sydney, Australia and led to a 95% accuracy rate if done three months after the baby is born. However, it can be conducted earlier.

While there is no cure for the disorder, earlier diagnosis may increase the treatment options and the likelihood that the severity of cerebral palsy may be reduced, resulting in permanent improvements in quality of life for the child.

The General Movements Assessment involves medical professionals recognizing distinct movement patterns babies should be displaying from before birth to up to 18 weeks after delivery. When medical professionals are trained to look for these movement patterns, or their absence, they are able to tell whether a child may be suffering from cerebral palsy or not.

Australia’s Cerebral Palsy Alliance is recommending that parents get their child assessed if they are under 18 weeks old and there were medical concerns at birth, such as premature birth, lack of oxygen, stroke, or congenital heart disease.

In many cases, cerebral palsy was caused by a birth injury, where the child’s brain was deprived of oxygen at, during or before birth. While cerebral palsy may occur without a medical mistake, when the exercise of the proper standards of medical care could have prevented the child’s brain from being deprived of oxygen, parents may be able to investigate potential cerebral palsy negligence lawsuits earlier, to determine whether financial compensation may be available for the child.


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