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Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy

Birth Defect Attorneys in Dallas

Although the symptoms of cerebral palsy may not be readily apparent, but instead may develop over time, an accurate diagnosis for cerebral palsy early on can help a family understand and plan for the potential long-term costs and commitment of raising a child with this disability. At the law firm of Miller Weisbrod, LLP, we understand the financial and emotional burden a traumatic birth injury such as cerebral palsy can place on a family. We help clients in Texas and across the nation obtain just compensation from negligent doctors or hospitals to handle the immediate and future costs associated with cerebral palsy treatment.

If your child suffered cerebral palsy due to doctor error or medical malpractice, contact us to discuss your case with our skilled birth defect attorneys in a free initial consultation.

Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy

Doctors diagnose cerebral palsy by testing an infant's motor skills and looking carefully at the infant's medical history. In addition to checking for symptoms such as slow development, abnormal muscle tone or unusual posture, a physician may also test an infant's:

  • Reflexes, using techniques such as the Moro reflex, in which a newborn reaches its arms out in an embrace if held on its back and tilted so the legs are above the head
  • Hand preference, because infants with spastic hemiplegia or cerebral palsy may develop a preference early on in life as the hand on the unaffected side of the body is stronger and more useful
  • Existence of any other movement disorders, including genetic diseases, muscle diseases, disorders in metabolism or tumors in the nervous system. Although its symptoms may change over time, cerebral palsy by definition is not progressive. If a child is continuously losing motor skills, other disorders may be the cause of movement irregularities or developmental problems.

The doctor may also order specialized tests to learn more about the possible cause of cerebral palsy. These include:

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans, which can reveal brain areas that are underdeveloped, abnormal cysts (sacs that are often filled with liquid) in the brain or other physical problems. With the information from CT scans, doctors may be better equipped to judge the long-term outlook for an affected child.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which uses a magnetic field and radio waves rather than X-rays to diagnose brain damage and abnormalities. MRIs often give better pictures of structures or abnormal areas located near bone than a CT scan does.
  • Ultrasonography, which bounces sound waves off the brain and uses the pattern of echoes to form a picture, or sonogram, of its structures. Ultrasonography can be used in infants before the bones of the skull harden and close. Although less precise than CT and MRI scanning, this technique can detect cysts and structures in the brain, is less expensive, and does not require long periods of immobility.

Finally, physicians may want to look for other conditions that are linked to cerebral palsy, including seizure disorders, mental impairment, and vision or hearing problems. Identifying these accompanying conditions is important and is becoming more accurate as ongoing research yields advances that make diagnosis easier. Many of these conditions can then be addressed through specific treatments, improving the long-term outlook for those with cerebral palsy.

Contact Miller Weisbrod

Miller Weisbrod has extensive experience handling cerebral palsy cases and other types of birth injuries. We are nationally recognized for the absolute commitment we give to our clients and our record of proven results obtained on behalf of clients nationwide. For more information, we invite you to call our offices toll free at 888.987.0005 or contact us by e-mail now to schedule an appointment.