Children who have the movement disorder cerebral palsy are likely born with the condition. It is caused by abnormal brain development or brain damage in parts of the brain that control muscle movement. The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy may be evident at birth or shortly after, but they can occur later in childhood.
At Dignity Health Central California, we know that diagnosing cerebral palsy early on gives children and their families the best chance of managing the condition. Skilled doctors in neurology services have trusted expertise in identifying cerebral palsy symptoms in Central California. Use our online tool to Find a Doctor who can expertly diagnose or rule out cerebral palsy.
Signs & Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Symptoms of cerebral palsy are mild to severe and vary considerably from child to child. There can be signs of cerebral palsy in babies, but symptoms are usually obvious by the time the child turns three years old.
Your doctor will look for symptoms of cerebral palsy that fall into three main categories including:
- Ataxia: Uncoordinated movement, lack of balance, and poor fine motor skills, like writing and handling utensils
- Dyskinesia: Difficulty controlling arm, leg, and facial muscles, from trembling hands to flailing arms and legs
- Spasticity: Muscle stiffness throughout the body, including the arms, legs, and trunk
Children with cerebral palsy may also have learning disabilities, difficulty speaking, bladder or bowel incontinence, vision and hearing problems, and painful sensations.
Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis at Dignity Health Central California
Your doctor will evaluate your child for developmental milestones, such as crawling and walking and hand-eye coordination. If your child is missing these events or shows other signs of cerebral palsy, your doctor will consult with one of our pediatric neurologists for a more comprehensive exam.
Diagnostic tests can help your doctor assess your child’s muscle tone and reflexes. Your doctor may also request an imaging test, such as a brain CT scan, and genetic tests to investigate related symptoms like seizures, and to rule out other possible causes of your child’s symptoms.
After diagnosis, cerebral palsy treatment begins as soon as possible. Dignity Health's knowledgeable doctors address not only the medical aspects of cerebral palsy, but also the associated learning disabilities and other challenges as your child grows up. Treatments include medications, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. These early interventions will improve your child’s quality of life and help your family overcome the difficulties of cerebral palsy.
Learn more about our pediatric services and the Lauren Small Children’s Center at Memorial Hospital.
Dignity Health Central California neurologists provide care with humankindness as we diagnose your cerebral palsy symptoms in Bakersfield, and Stockton, CA.