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Evaluating Cerebral Palsy Signs & Symptoms in Southern California


Cerebral palsy (CP) is the term for a group of congenital movement disorders, caused by abnormalities in the part of the brain that regulates motor function. Risk factors for cerebral palsy include low premature birth, certain infections in the mother, reduced oxygen supply to the brain during development, and low birth weight.

Early recognition and diagnosis gives children and their families the best chance of managing and overcoming the difficulties of cerebral palsy. Dignity Health Southern California offers leading-edge neurology and neurosurgery services, including diagnostic testing for cerebral palsy, in Southern California. Use our online Find a Doctor tool and make an appointment today.

Cerebral Palsy Signs & Symptoms

Dyskinesia, ataxia, and spasticity are the three basic types of cerebral palsy. By the time a child with CP turns three years old, the signs and symptoms are usually evident.

  • Dyskinesia involves poor muscle control of the mouth and face, as well as tremors and other uncontrolled movements of the arms, legs, hands, or feet
  • Ataxia is a lack of coordination or balance when performing any voluntary activity that requires fine motor skills
  • Spasticity involves muscle stiffness in the legs, arm, or torso

The signs and symptoms of each type of cerebral palsy can range from mild to severe. For example, a severe case of dyskinesia can cause uncontrolled flailing, while a mild case may only involve tremors of the hands.

In addition to symptoms related muscle movement, cerebral palsy can cause additional impairments, such as:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Hearing loss
  • Learning disabilities
  • Bladder or bowel incontinence
  • Abnormal sensations including pain
  • Poor vision

Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy at Dignity Health Southern California

An early diagnosis of cerebral palsy can improve your child’s quality of life, allow you to address learning disabilities, and connect you with emotional and social support. Cerebral palsy is often diagnosed during routine visits to the your child’s doctor. At each well-child visit, your pediatrician will assess your child for developmental milestones, such as crawling and walking. If your child misses a developmental milestone or displays movement or coordination problems, your doctor will likely want to evaluate your child further.

Sometimes, doctors use tests to help rule out other possible causes of a child’s movement disorder. These tests may include:

  • Genetic testing
  • Blood tests
  • Brain-imaging scans
  • Other tests to evaluate your child for related conditions

Our expert neurologists provide personal care from diagnosis to determining a treatment option. See one of our doctors today.

Dignity Health offers compassionate care and diagnostic testing for neurological-conditions, including cerebral palsy, in Southern California.