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Cerebral Palsy - Topic Overview

Your child's doctor will do a physical exam and ask you about your child's medical history. He or she will ask about your child's growth and about any problems you may have noticed. The doctor may also ask about your child's development.

Tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI of your child's head, may also be done. Or the doctor may look at ultrasound pictures of the brain. These tests can sometimes help the doctor find the cause of cerebral palsy.

If your child has a severe form of cerebral palsy, a doctor may be able to pinpoint the problem within the first few weeks of your child's life. But parents are often the first to notice that their baby does not have the abilities and skills that are common in other children in the same age group. These developmental delays can be early signs of cerebral palsy.

Even when the condition is present at birth, the signs of cerebral palsy may not be noticed until a child is 1 to 3 years old.

Even though cerebral palsy can't be cured, you and your child can do things to help deal with symptoms, prevent problems, and make the most of your child's abilities. Physical therapy is one of the most important treatments. Medicines, surgery, and special equipment such as a walker can also help.

Meeting the daily needs of a family member with cerebral palsy isn't easy. If your child has cerebral palsy, seek family and community support. It may help to join a support group or talk with other parents who have a child with special needs, so you don't feel alone.

You may also find counseling useful. It may help you understand and deal with the wide range of emotions you may feel. Your child will need help too. Providing emotional support for your child can help him or her cope with having cerebral palsy.

Learning that your child has cerebral palsy isn't easy, and raising a child who has it can be hard. But the more you know, the better you can care for and provide for your child.

Learning about cerebral palsy:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Living with cerebral palsy:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 20, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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