Suspicion of Cerebral Palsy Any child who has developmental delay in motor functions – Which means the motor milestones develop later than the expected age. The suspicion should be higher if the child has had insult to brain say during perinatal period. Such babies are considered high risk babies, which means they have a higher chance of developing cerebral palsy in comparison to the babies who had no perinatal problem.
Following steps should be taken as soon as delayed motor development is suspected or a child who has sustained insult to brain.
- Educate yourself about the age of development of various milestones and compare them with the high risk baby (Chronology of milestones).
- Compare suspected child’s development with the development of known normal children.
- Consult qualified specialist like pediatrician (preferably developmental pediatrician)/pediatric neurophysician/pediatric neurosurgeon/pediatric orthopedician.
Make it a point of consulting a pediatrician during each vaccination day. Request him to see whether the child has cerebral palsy. Remember, the specialists can diagnose CP even before developmental delay is observed. Therefore all the high risk babies must be shown regularly to specialists.
- As soon as diagnosis is made intervention should be started. At this time you are likely to face tremendous confusion. There are many indigenous methods and we do not know how effective they are. Therefore, those methods with at least some scientific proof should be tried. If you have money, manpower and time you may also try other methods. As soon as diagnosis is made following methods should be started.
- Specialized therapeutic exercises say physiotherapy.
- To learn correct methods of handling and nursing the child.
- The methods would help in breaking the wrong patterns.
- Would stretch the spastic muscles.
- Would not reinforce abnormal reflexes.
- Brain tonics may be given but only for a few months immediately after the insult to brain.
- Regular consultation with various specialists. Please do not try to get this done in hurry. Because, the professionals are usually very busy and if you are too, then the net result will be less attention to the child. The professionals can always finish their work in a short time. Parents and professionals should try their best to plan out the program in such a way that no ones time is wasted and maximum proper attention is given to the child.
- Make sure that wrong methods are not tried.
- Prepare immediate, short term and long term plans of management in consultation with various specialists. Write the plan in your planner. The plan should be written down in the monthly and yearly calendars of next 5 years. Extra attention and treatment should be planned as soon as complications like contracture etc. start developing. Do not forget that the child may have associated other disorders like speech abnormality, cognitive sub normality etc. and other specialists to deal with these disorders should also be consulted.