Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis – 5 Things You Should Know

Receiving a cerebral palsy diagnosis can be one of the hardest things to hear. Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder that happens when a child’s brain suffers an injury at or close to birth. While growing up, children with cerebral palsy won’t hit milestones as early as other children. They may have low Apgar scores. This test checks a newborn’s appearance, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone, and breathing rate. Or they may not be able to roll over or look like they are having a seizure.

Watching your child experience those symptoms can be very distressing for parents. Therefore, a cerebral palsy diagnosis can bring forth a sense of relief. This is true even if that relief is full of concern for your child’s future. Here’s what all parents should know if their child after their doctor has given them a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

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Cerebral palsy is not a disease, it is a neurological syndrome with several signs and symptoms. These symptoms are like several other metabolic/neurodegenerative disorders. Because of this, it is important to have the child evaluated. Specialists do this in order to determine if there any underlying conditions responsible for the cerebral palsy.

1. A Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis Is Not Your Fault

Many parents blame themselves when their child receives a cerebral palsy diagnosis. But it is not your fault. Yes, cerebral palsy can is frequently a preventable condition. But it’s a preventable condition on the part of the medical staff, not the parents. Among the many improper steps the hospital staff can take are:

  • Not monitoring the baby’s heartbeat to detect unacceptable levels of stress.
  • Not performing an emergency Caesarian section when it is clearly necessary.
  • Improper use of the birthing tools used during a forceps delivery or vacuum extraction.
  • Not taking the necessary steps to prevent or control hemorrhaging and tearing in the mother.
  • Using too much force to twist or pull the baby during the delivery process.

The risks to both mother and child continue after the birth of your child. These risks include:

  • Not controlling blood loss.
  • Not monitoring the baby’s oxygen levels.
  • Failing to check the baby for jaundice.
  • Failing to check the mother’s Rh blood type.
  • Not diagnosing and treating any uterine ruptures or tears immediately to prevent infection and other long-term medical problems.

All these issues can result in significant problems for both baby and mother. Be sure you stay on top of everything the doctors, nurses, and any other medical staff is doing. This is the only way to make sure both mother and child have the best shot at avoiding complications.

2. Spasticity

Parents should be mainly prepared for the most common symptom—spasticity. Spasticity means that some of their muscles contract continuously, which makes their movements very stiff and it can be painful. However, it is possible to manage this stiffness.

Worth noting is that despite there being 3 types of cerebral palsy, the most common one is spasticity. How much of a problem spasticity becomes depends on the amount of the child’s brain has been affected. It also depends on which part of the body that section of their brain controls.

There are many forms of therapy that you can use early on to help loosen your child’s muscles and alleviate their discomfort.

3. Other Conditions Co-Occur With Cerebral Palsy

Due to the nature of cerebral palsy, children with it may be at a higher risk of other conditions like epilepsy, autism spectrum and anxiety, depression, and ADHD.

Furthermore, cerebral palsy is a mobility disorder. Because your child might walk a bit different than other children or need a wheelchair, it can lower their confidence. It can also affect their self-esteem and independence. So, while you are focusing on managing their difficulties moving, be mindful of the emotional effect their disorder can have on them.

4. Misdiagnosis

The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy can differ from person to person, This can lead to a misdiagnosis. Which is why it’s essential for you to get a second opinion for your child’s diagnosis.

One reason why misdiagnosis of cerebral palsy is possible has something else to do with a child’s spastic and uncontrollable motions. These movements, which happen to children with cerebral palsy, can look a lot like a seizure.

It’s difficult for health care providers to determine whether it was a seizure or a movement disorder. This is because preverbal or nonverbal children can’t explain to anyone what they are experiencing when these moments happen. This can cause them to give your child a seizure disorder diagnosis.

Another possible disorder that is easy to confuse with cerebral palsy is dopa-responsive dystonia (DRD). The symptoms of DRD are very similar to those of dystonic cerebral palsy. However, the symptoms of DRD will get worse over time because it is a progressive disease. But, once a child with DRD receives dopamine therapy, their symptoms may go away completely.

Along the same lines, there are several other neurodegenerative, including genetic and metabolic disorders, that present similar signs and symptoms. The of the progression of some of these disorders is slow. Because of this, it is possible for them to misdiagnosed as cerebral palsy.

5. There is Hope

While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, the condition is manageable and there is hope. Depending on your child’s specific situation they may work with many different specialists:

Your child’s specialist will recommend various treatments and therapies. There are other activities you and your child can do to help them manage their symptoms and improve their mobility. These include activities such as horseback riding, art therapy, and yoga.  Special Strong offers personal training that can help with a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis.

Navigating Life After a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis: A Guide to What’s Next

Receiving a diagnosis of cerebral palsy (CP) for yourself or a loved one can be an emotionally challenging experience. However, understanding what comes next is crucial for providing the best possible support and care. Here’s a guide to help you navigate the journey after a cerebral palsy diagnosis:

1. Seek Expert Guidance

When navigating the complex landscape following a cerebral palsy diagnosis, it’s imperative to seek expert guidance from healthcare professionals who specialize in treating and managing this condition. This multidisciplinary team might include pediatricians who understand the nuances of cerebral palsy in children, neurologists who can delve into the neurological aspects and offer insights on potential brain-related challenges, physical therapists to assist in improving motor functions, and occupational therapists to aid in adapting daily activities to the individual’s capabilities.

2. Develop a Care Plan

After confirming a cerebral palsy diagnosis, it’s crucial to work closely with healthcare providers to develop a care plan that is specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of the individual. This collaborative process involves a thoughtful consideration of various medical treatments, therapies, and interventions that can significantly improve the individual’s quality of life. For example, orthopedic interventions may be necessary for some, while others might benefit more from regular physical therapy sessions. The goal is to create a holistic plan that addresses all facets of living with cerebral palsy, from reducing muscle stiffness and improving mobility to enhancing communication abilities.

3. Access Early Intervention Services

In the realm of cerebral palsy management, early intervention services are paramount. These services are particularly crucial for children who have received a cerebral palsy diagnosis, leveraging the neuroplasticity of young brains to make significant developmental improvements. Early intervention encompasses a range of therapies, including physical therapy to strengthen muscles and improve coordination, occupational therapy to help with daily tasks and independence, and speech therapy to enhance communication skills. By addressing the developmental challenges associated with cerebral palsy at an early stage, these interventions aim to maximize the child’s potential for growth and development.

4. Explore Educational Resources

For school-aged individuals with cerebral palsy, accessing the right educational resources is critical. The journey begins by engaging with educators and school administrators to discuss the specific needs of the student. This might involve setting up an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that outlines the necessary accommodations and support services to ensure the child’s educational success. It also includes exploring assistive technologies that can aid in learning and communication, ensuring that the child can participate fully in school activities. This step is essential in not only facilitating a conducive learning environment but also in fostering a sense of inclusion and belonging among peers.

5. Connect with Support Networks

Navigating life with cerebral palsy can present numerous challenges, making the support from others who understand the journey invaluable. Connecting with support networks and organizations specializing in cerebral palsy can provide a lifeline to families and individuals affected by the condition. These groups offer a platform to share experiences, seek advice, and find emotional support among those who truly understand the intricacies of living with cerebral palsy. Beyond offering moral support, these communities often provide access to a wealth of practical information, from navigating healthcare services to learning about new therapies and interventions. For families grappling with the initial phases following a cerebral palsy diagnosis—or even those facing the uncertainty of a potential misdiagnosis of cerebral palsy—these networks can act as a beacon of hope, offering guidance, resources, and a sense of community through every step of their journey.

Remember, a cerebral palsy diagnosis is the beginning of a unique journey. With the right support, care, and advocacy, individuals with cerebral palsy can lead fulfilling lives, reaching their full potential.

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