Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of conditions caused by problems in the parts of the brain that control muscle movement. Doctors don’t know what causes cerebral palsy. However, risk factors include reduced oxygen to the baby’s brain during pregnancy, premature birth and low birth weight, and certain infections in the mother. Early diagnosis and cerebral palsy treatment can help children and their families better manage and overcome issues related to cerebral palsy.
Specialists at Dignity Health use a team approach when treating brain and nervous system disorders, including cerebral palsy, in Arizona. Our care teams include a range of specialists — nurse practitioners, neurologists, intensivists, and neurosurgeons — who are experts in their field and committed to delivering compassionate and personalized care.
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Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy symptoms are usually obvious by the time a child turns three years old. There are three types of cerebral palsy:
- Spasticity is muscle stiffness affecting all or parts of the trunk, legs, or arms.
- Dyskinesia is uncontrolled movement of the legs, feet, hands, or arms. Poor control of muscles in the mouth or face is also common.
- Ataxia is lack of balance or poor coordination while walking or during activities that require fine motor control, such as writing.
For each type of cerebral palsy, symptoms range from mild to severe. Very severe cases of spasticity, for example, can cause near complete paralysis. Mild cases of dyskinesia can cause trembling hands. Severe dyskinesia can result in uncontrolled flailing.
Cerebral palsy lead to problems other than muscle movement, including:
- Abnormal sensations, including pain
- Difficulty talking
- Learning disabilities
- Hearing loss
- Bowel or bladder incontinence
- Poor vision
Early Signs of Cerebral Palsy & Diagnosis at Dignity Health
Dignity Health pediatricians routinely screen for cerebral palsy during well-child visits. Your doctor will evaluate your child for developmental milestones, such as walking and crawling. If he or she has motor coordination problems or misses a developmental milestone, your doctor will perform a physical exam to evaluate reflexes and muscle tone.
Doctors use a variety of tests to rule out other causes of movement problems, such as epilepsy. To diagnose cerebral palsy, your doctor may order:
An early diagnosis of cerebral palsy can connect you and your child with social support systems and help address learning disabilities as quickly as possible.
Dignity Health offers diagnosis and personalized treatment for cerebral palsy in Arizona.