On the heels of another study, which may indicate that cerebral palsy may be influenced to some degree by genetic factors in addition to environmental factors, comes another study which may give hope to parents of children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
A significant problem in the treatment of children with cerebral palsy is the fact that, until now, diagnosis cannot be made until the child reaches about 18 months. Once diagnosed, children can benefit from a wealth of specialists, treatments and therapies designed to ease this condition. Earlier treatment, especially before a baby reaches their first year, can lead to significant health improvements.
Now, because of an Australian trial established by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, there is hope that children with cerebral palsy may be diagnosed around three months of age, with about 95% accuracy. All neonatal units in Sydney, Australia have been trained in the General Movements Assessment tool, used for early cerebral palsy detection.
The General Movements Assessment Tool
One of the best ways to detect cerebral palsy early is to use the General Movements Assessment Tool. This tool uses data that shows that babies at a young age, up to 18 weeks, typically move in a certain way when left to their own devices (that is, without interaction from other people or stimuli). Children must be observed in a natural situation. A child may benefit from this assessment if there was some complication at birth, like prematurity or oxygen deprivation.
The research also investigates the effect of early treatment following diagnosis. Researchers say that motor learning approaches are the best way to optimize the developing brain. While some researchers point to the lack of evidence about the effectiveness of early treatment, we believe that evidence will likely be forthcoming as early diagnosis spreads throughout the world.
It is an exciting time for cerebral palsy research. Though there is no cure, medical science is regularly creating improvements to diagnosis and treatment, which will certainly lead to a better quality of life for people with cerebral palsy. For more information about the cause of cerebral palsy, contact our medical malpractice attorneys at (440) 252-4399 or online for a free consultation.