Diagnosis of CP
the role parents play in the diagnosis process
For many of the parents in our community, receiving a CP diagnosis for their child was extremely difficult. Members have shared stories of hospitals withholding medical records, doctors evading and pediatricians taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach.
At CPFN, we firmly believe that you should never be left in the dark when it comes to your child’s care and well being. If you are wondering whether your child may have CP, you shouldn’t need to jump through hoops to find out. That’s why we have developed the tools and provided the information necessary to help you every step of the way.
Many parents begin to worry about the health and well-being of their child when he or she consistently misses key developmental milestones. Unfortunately, when parents present these concerns to their pediatrician, the recommendation is often to take a 'wait and see' approach. In some cases, this prevents parents from seeking the care - be it through physical therapy, medical devices and/or other medical assistance - that can help their child develop key skills earlier in life. In order to support parents who are concerned about their child's development, we created an easy online quiz that helps parents understand what to do next. While it is useful to many parents, it is important to remember that no quiz can replace the expert guidance and insight that can be provided by a physician.
Indicators of Cerebral Palsy
As parents, we know our children and being told to “wait and see” when we suspect a problem does not sit well or provide much consolation. Below are a few questions you may have asked yourself if you were wondering whether your child may have CP. Each question is a potential indicator of CP – and clicking on each one will provide a detailed explanation and insight into how these questions relate to CP.
- Why is my child not growing physically?
- Why does it take so long to feed my child?
- Why is my child experiencing uncontrolled movements?
- Why is my child not developing normally?
If you believe your child has CP, here are a few next steps:
- You’re not alone! You’re in the right place to begin this journey, surrounded by a community that has been there before and genuinely cares about you and your child. CPFN is a place where you can feel safe to ask for advice and guidance, or additional information on how other parents of children with CP handle day-to-day tasks.
- We strongly encourage parents who are concerned that their child may have CP to take action and contact their pediatrician or a specialist. Our Resources Directory provides hundreds of pediatricians and doctors around the country who are recommended by families within the network.
- If your child has recieved a preliminary diagnosis of CP from a pediatrician or specialist, the next step is a series of Developmental Monitoring and Screening Tests, along with brain imaging or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests. You can learn more about these tests and how they work here.
- If your child has been diagnosed with CP, we strongly recommend that you have a neutral third-party check your child’s medical records. As tests are being done, request your child’s records from the individuals who have them (usually a hospital or OBGYN). These can be immensely valuable to specialists and can help you uncover the truth as to what caused your child’s CP.
At times, the diagnostic process can be lengthy and difficult. Don’t lose heart! The families of CPFN are here for you and are available to answer any questions you may have.
- Why is my child failing to thrive?
- Why is my child having such a difficult time mastering basic movement?
- Why does my child keep getting seizures?
How is CP Diagnosed?
Cerebral Palsy is often diagnosed as one of two forms:
- Congenital Cerebral Palsy, due to injuries that occurred during pregnancy or birth
- Acquired Cerebral Palsy, due to injuries sustained in the months or years following birth
Following an observational diagnosis by a physician or pediatrician, multiple scans and tests are conducted to check your child for neurological irregularities. If these tests are positive and a diagnosis of CP is confirmed, 3 tests are used to assess the level of severity, using a range from 1 – 5, with 1 being mild and 5 being the most severe.
Types of CP
While symptoms range from mild to severe, cerebral palsy doesn’t get worse as your child gets older. Depending on the level of severity, however, a child may be at risk for related complications such as developmental delays, failure to thrive, joint contractures, scoliosis or seizures. In the end please remember that, despite all the “classification” criteria, your child’s CP is as unique as your child.
Learn more about the different types of cerebral palsy.
Receiving a CP diagnosis allows parents to move forward and begin pursuing treatment and therapy options for their child. Early intervention is key to providing children with CP with the highest quality of life possible.