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How Do They Test for Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy manifests in different ways for different children. As such, testing for and diagnosing cerebral palsy is not an exact science. This can be frustrating for parents who want to know if their child suffers from the condition. Unfortunately, testing for cerebral palsy can be a time-consuming and dispiriting process due to its complicated nature.

Doctors and healthcare professionals use developmental monitoring, developmental screening, and developmental and medical evaluations to determine whether a child has cerebral palsy. Additionally, such tests can ascertain the severity of the condition, if present. It should be noted that some cases of cerebral palsy can be attributed to negligent doctors and physicians and their role during the birthing process of a child.

The Baltimore birth injury lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras provide help to families who want to hold negligent physicians accountable for injuries suffered during the birthing process. If you are interested in learning more about how legal services, please call our attorneys at (410) 694-7921 to set up a free case evaluation.

Methods of Testing for Cerebral Palsy

Testing for and evaluating cerebral palsy in children encompasses the use of different methods that measure the cognitive, emotional, and physical state of a child.

These three spheres form the critical area inquiry for healthcare providers when testing for cerebral palsy. These tests consist of monitoring and screening developmental aspects of a child’s growth and rendering evaluations of the child’s overall developmental and medical health.

Monitoring Development

Sometimes called surveillance, developmental monitoring consists of tracking the development and growth of a child over an extended period. This is generally carried out by pediatricians during a child’s first months and years. the doctor will question the parents about the child’s development, in addition to observing the child during the exam. If any issues are raised, a developmental screening should be carried out immediately.

Screening Development

Developmental screening is generally a short test administered by a doctor to measure any developmental delays a child may have. These tests also include detailed questioning of parents about the development of their child. This means asking questions about the child’s behavior, movement, language, emotions, and thinking. It should be noted that experts recommend all children receive developmental screening at 9 months, 18 months, and 30 months.

Developmental and Medical Evaluation

If the developmental screening procedures flag areas of concern, the next step in testing children for cerebral palsy is to perform a developmental evaluation. Unlike a developmental screening, an evaluation is a formal process carried out by a specialist. Such specialists include child psychologists, speech-language pathologists, or other trained professionals in a field that deals with pediatrics. This evaluation determines whether a child might benefit from early intervention treatment or other therapies aimed at blunting the effects of cerebral palsy.

The cost of specialists can place a heavy financial strain on a family raising a child with a disability. If a child’s brain injury was sustained during birth, then a negligent physician might be responsible for the damage done. the Maryland cerebral palsy lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras might be able to help.

Diagnostic Tests for Cerebral Palsy

Doctors and healthcare providers use imaging technology to aid in diagnosing cerebral palsy. These tests also offer invaluable data about neurological conditions that often occur alongside cerebral palsy. These conditions include seizures and other neurological ailments that can exacerbate a child’s already fragile condition. The results of imaging tests have been able to conclusively diagnose cerebral palsy in some instances.


An EEG, or electroencephalogram, tracks the brain’s electrical activity. Those with cerebral palsy and seizures have specific patterns of electrical activity doctors can look for. Doctors perform EEGs by fixing electrodes to the patient’s scalp and then measuring the electrical activity.

CT Scan

Computed tomography, or CT scans, are commonly used to create sectional images of the brain. the entire process takes 20 minutes and is an effective means of diagnosing cerebral palsy. Additionally, a CT scan can help determine when and how the brain injury occurred.

Cranial Ultrasound

This test employs an ultrasound probe that beams high-frequency sound waves throughout the brain to create a picture of the structures. While not as detailed as CT scans, cranial ultrasounds are quick to administer and offer brain tissue imaging that allows doctors to gauge any changes in the brain’s white matter.


Magnetic resonance imaging machines capture 3-dimensional images of the brain. These longer tests are effective at detecting any abnormalities that might impair brain function. MRIs are regularly used to help diagnose children that might be suffering from cerebral palsy.

These assessments are critical in testing children for cerebral palsy. A timely diagnosis can mean a world of difference in being able to correct abnormal motor functions. In other words, a child diagnosed early with cerebral palsy will have a better chance at independently walking than those diagnosed later.

Contact Our Baltimore Birth Injury Lawyers to Learn More About How Children are Tested for Cerebral Palsy

The Maryland birth injury attorneys at Rice, Murtha & Psoras can provide the attention and care that a medical malpractice case requires when it involves your child. Please reach out to our lawyers at (410) 694-7921.