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Cerebral Palsy Society of Trinidad and Tobago

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Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy

Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy
Doctors diagnose cerebral palsy by testing an infant's motor skills and looking carefully at the infant's medical history. In addition to checking for slow development, abnormal muscle tone, and unusual posture, a physician can also perform a number of medical tests such as MRIs, CTs, and ultrasounds to look at pictures of the infant's brain, which can help determine the cause of the child's problems as well as rule out other disorders. Please contact 4MyChild for more information regarding how cerebral palsy is diagnosed.
Reflex Test
Reflexes are movements that the body makes automatically in response to a specific cue. There are many reflexes physicians check. For example, when a newborn is held on its back and tilted so its legs are above its head, the baby will automatically extend its arms in a gesture, called the Moro reflex, which looks like an embrace. Babies normally lose this reflex after they reach 6 months, but those with cerebral palsy may retain it for abnormally long periods.
Hand Preference Test
Doctors can also test for hand preference-a baby's tendency to use either the right or left hand more often. The doctor will hold an object in front and to the side of the infant. An infant with a hand preference will use the favored hand to reach for the object, even when it is held closer to the opposite hand. During the first 12 months of life, babies do not usually show hand preference. However, infants with cerebral palsy may develop a preference much earlier, since one hand is usually stronger and more useful.
Computed tomography, or CT, a sophisticated imaging technique that uses X rays and a computer to create an anatomical picture of the brain's tissues and structures. A CT scan may reveal brain areas that are underdeveloped, abnormal cysts (sacs that are often filled with liquid) in the brain, or other physical problems. With the information from CT scans, doctors may be better equipped to judge the long-term outlook for an affected child.
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a relatively new brain imaging technique that is rapidly gaining widespread use for identifying brain disorders. This technique uses a magnetic field and radio waves, not X rays to map portions of the brain. MRI gives better pictures of structures or abnormal areas located near bone than CT.
When the doctor suspects a seizure disorder, an electroencephalogram, or EEG, may be ordered. An EEG uses special patches called electrodes placed on the scalp to record the natural electrical currents inside the brain. This recording can help the doctor see telltale patterns in the brain's electrical activity that suggest a seizure disorder.
Intelligence Tests
Intelligence tests are often used to determine if a child with cerebral palsy is mentally impaired. Sometimes, however, a child's intelligence may be underestimated because problems with movement, sensation, or speech due to cerebral palsy make it difficult for him or her to perform well on these tests.
Vision Tests
If problems with vision are suspected, the doctor may refer the patient to an ophthalmologist for examination; if hearing impairment seems likely, an audiologist may be called in.
Ruling Out Other Disorders
A crucial step in diagnosing cerebral palsy is to rule out other disorders that can cause movement problems. Most importantly, doctors must determine that the child's condition is not getting worse. Although symptoms may change over time, cerebral palsy is not progressive. If a child is continuously losing motor skills, the problem more likely has another cause, such as a genetic disease, a muscle disease, a disorder of metabolism, or a tumor in the nervous system. The child's medical history, special diagnostic tests, and, in some cases, repeated check-ups can help confirm that other disorders are not at fault.
We offer a brief overview of various treatments as well as some links for more information on these treatments. Please remember that we do not endorse any of the Web sites on these pages. We urge you to use common sense when using the information they contain. Contact us if you have more questions about treatment options
-Adeli Suit
-Alexander Technique
-Amino Acid Therapy
-Aquatic Therapy
-Auditory Integration Therapy
-Baclofen Therapy
-Botox Therapy
-Conductive Education
-Constrained Induced Therapy
-Cranio-Sacral Therapy
-Dance Therapy
-EEG Biofeedback
-EMG Biofeedback
-Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES)
-Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment
-Manual Therapy
-Music Therapy
-Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT)
-Samonas Sound Therapy
-Therapeutic Electrical Stimulation
-Therapeutic Horseback Riding
-Vojta (Relexlocamotion) Therapy
Acupuncture is an alternative treatment that is over 5,000 years old. This treatment involves inserting very fine needles into the skin at specific points in order to influence physiological functioning of the body. Acupuncture is based on the idea that the body has an energy force running through it and that a person's health is impacted when this force is unbalanced, insufficient, or interrupted. The practice of acupuncture is believed to help open the pathways through which the body's energy flows, and therefore, restore or improve health and movement. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Sedona Healing Arts
Acupuncture Today
Adeli Suit
Adeli Suit therapy is a unique and intensive physical therapy treatment based on the Adeli suit, first used by Russian cosmonauts in the early 1970s to prevent muscle atrophy in space. Adapted for physical therapy use by a Russian businessman, it has been used in Europe to treat cerebral palsy patients since 1992. The suit consists of a modified vest, shorts, kneepads, and shoes, which are laced together with flexible, bungee-like cords that are adjusted to provide varying pounds of pressure to needed muscle groups. These tension cords form an outer "skeleton" that can be adjusted to provide additional support and exercise to weaker muscle groups. Adeli Suit therapy has been widely successful in helping cerebral palsy patients through improved muscle control and movement. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
EuroMed Rehabilitation Center
Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique is based on the idea that movement difficulties are caused by unconscious habits which interfere with poise and capacity to learn. By practicing simple movements, individuals learn to develop more control over their activities, take on more complex activities, and develop a greater sense of self-confidence and presence of mind. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
The American Society for the Alexander Technique
The Alexander Technique
Alexander Technique Teachers
The Complete Guide to the Alexander Technique
Amino Acid Therapy
Based on the idea that the absence or presence of certain amino acids contribute to development of cerebral palsy, amino acid therapy consists of oral or intravenous administration of amino acids. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Primavera Medical Center
The Healing Arts
Aquatic Therapy
Aquatic therapy is physical or occupational therapy performed in a heated (between 92 and 96 degrees) pool. The warm temperature helps to decrease spasticity, while the buoyancy of the water enables the patient an increased range of motion. This therapy is often used to assist in improving range of motion, cardiovascular endurance, balance, strength, tactile stimulation tolerance, relaxation, ambulation, and pain management. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Akron General Sports & Physical Therapy
Aquatic Resources Network
Auditory Integration Therapy
Auditory integration therapy is meant to help people with disorders of the auditory system, such as hearing loss or distortion. Auditory integration therapy may help children with autism, dyslexia, hyperactivity, learning disorders, language impairments, pervasive developmental disorders, central auditory processing disorder, attention deficit disorder, and depression. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Auditory Integration Training Services
Enhanced Auditory Rehab Services
Baclofen Therapy
Most effective for patients with severe spasticity, baclofen therapy consists of administering baclofen orally or through a pump implanted near the spine, which injects baclofen directly into the spinal cord. Benefits of baclofen therapy include reduced tone, spasms, and pain, as well as increased mobility. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
We Move
The Baclofen Pump Page
UCP: Tampa Bay Fact Sheet
Botox Therapy
In botox therapy, botulinum toxin is injected into spastic muscles to weaken them. Coupled with increased therapy during the time when muscles are weakened, patients can make great improvements in range of motion or strength. The therapy can help decrease scissoring of legs and spasticity even after the injections ear off, although the muscle weakness is temporary and the shots must be repeated every six months. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Wake Forest Baptist Hospital
UCP: Tampa Bay Botox Update
National Library of Medicine
Conductive Education
This system of education provides social skills to people with central nervous system damage. This approach helps people achieve spontaneous and innovative problem-solving skills encouraging them to develop an active, independent, motivated approach to the problems of everyday life. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Inter-American Conductive Education Association
Ability Camp, Inc.
Moira Centre
Conductive Education Center
The Conductive Education Web
Constrained Induced Therapy
Used mainly for stroke victims, CI therapy is based on the idea that the brain can "rewire" itself if the patient is encouraged to use the more-affected parts of her body and not fall back on her more functional limbs. This therapy has significantly improved the quality of movement in a number of patients. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
CI Therapy (UAB Health System)
Clinical Report from VA Research and Development
Tennessee Occupational Therapy Association
Cranio-Sacral Therapy
This gentle, hands-on therapy enhances the functioning of craniosacral system (the brain and spinal cord). Therapists release restrictions in this system by using light touch. This treatment is particularly helpful in steadying the gait and properly aligning the body. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
The Upledger Institute
The Alternative Guide Therapy Links
Craniosacral Therapy Association of the UK
National Down Syndrome Congress
Osteopathic Center for Children
Dance Therapy
Dance therapy encourages movement and rhythm awareness. This therapy can help children improve self-esteem as well has develop better motor planning skills, socialization and group interaction skills, and increased awareness of personal and surrounding spaces. It also encourages verbal skills as children learn to sing along to the songs. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
EEG Biofeedback
EEG Biofeedback provides patients with information about their brainwaves on a computer screen. They are then encouraged to learn how to change those brain waves to alter how their body functions. Electrodes are attached to the head to measure brainwave activity while the patient moves certain muscles. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
EEG Spectrum International, Inc.
Biofeedback Certification Institute of America
Cascade Center for Family Growth
EEG Biofeedback FAQ
Futurehealth, Inc.
EMG Biofeedback
Much like EEG Biofeedback, EMG Biofeedback helps patients learn to use affected limbs by measuring the movements and muscle exertion patterns produced by an unaffected limb. They then use this pattern to help teach the affected limb how to function more normally. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Biofeedback Foundation of Europe
This form of therapy helps patients become aware of habitual movements and posture. Therapists then encourage patients to change their movements through guided actions. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Movement Educators
The FeldenKrais Method
Feldenkrais Guild of North America
Feldenkrais Resources
FES/Functional Electrical Stimulation
Functional Electrical Stimulation replaces interrupted nerve impulses (because of brain or spinal cord damage) to muscles with small electrical shocks. It works particularly well with people who have spacsticity. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Different Strokes
FES Information Center
Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment
Saturating the body's tissues with oxygen has produced many positive effects, including new blood vessel growth, decreased swelling and inflammation, deactivation of toxins, improved breathing, and improved immune system. During this treatment, patients breathe 100 percent oxygen while inside a pressurized air chamber, which causes a greater than normal amount of oxygen to be dissolved in the blood stream. The treatment has proven helpful in treating cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, autism, head injuries, vascular disease, sport injuries, chronic fatigue, and others. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
American College of Hyperbaric Medicine
Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Social
HBO 4 R Kids
HBOT for Developmental Disabilities
HBOT Online
Manual Therapy
Manual Therapy involves putting muscles into a state of relaxation before stretching them. This allows patients to achieve an increased range of movement. Manual therapy treats both soft tissue and joint structures. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Early American Manual Therapy
Manual Therapy Research
North American Institute of Orthopaedic Manual Therapy
Medek therapy focuses on training movements that lead to sitting, standing, and walking. Muscles are trained for tasks, not in isolated movements. Movements are performed without the child's conscious participation. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
The Canadian M.E.D.E.K. Centre
Music Therapy
Music therapy helps people with a number of disorders, including neurological, mental, and behavioral disorders. Patients often improve in emotional well-being, physical health, social functioning, communication abilities, and cognitive skills. Music improvisation, listening, song-writing, lyric discussion, music and imagery, and performance can all be part of therapy sessions. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
American Music Therapy Association
Canadian Association for Music Therapy
Prelude Music Therapy
Neuro-Developmental Treatment (NDT)
Neuro-developmental treatment is an interactive approach that addresses movement issues by utilizing principles of movement sciences. The treatment process includes the gradual withdrawal of direct practitioner input leading to increased independence in the patient. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
The Bobath Centre
Boehme Workshops
Neuro-Developmental Treatment Association (NDTA)
International Clinical Educators, Inc.
This therapy works by manipulating the soft tissues of the myofacial system to allow for proper alignment and organization of the body. Rolfing helps to loosen spastic muscles and smooths gait patterns and helps align the spine. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration
Frome Physical Therapy
Samonas Sound Therapy
Samonas sound therapy provides slight massage to certain areas of the middle ear allowing the patient to hear sounds previously never accessed. Sounds are monitored to make sure the patient does not find them threatening. Improvements in the auditory system and related systems often result. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Samonas Sound Therapy
Information about Samonas Sound Therapy
The Whole Idea
Therapeutic Electrical Stimulation
Therapeutic Electrical Stimulation provides a low level electrical stimulation that does not contract the muscles, but encourages blood flow to stimulate muscle growth. Electrodes are worn at night and placed on atrophied muscles to encourage growth and counteraction of overactive spastic muscles. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Technology Assisted Self Care
Therapeutic Horseback Riding
Therapeutic horseback riding has been shown to improve balance and muscle strength, self-confidence and emotional control, and hand-eye coordination. Individuals participating in therapeutic horseback riding also benefit from a developing respect and love for animals through their interactions with horses. This treatment has proven beneficial to individuals suffering from cerebral palsy, attention deficit disorder, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, and others. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Occupational Therapy-Hippotherapy
North American Riding for the Hanidcapped Association (NARHA)
Pal-O-Mine Equestrian
Vojta (Reflexlocaomotion) Therapy
This highly specialized type of physical therapy is designed primarily to enhance the motor development. Treatment has added benefits of improvements in cognition, fine motor, breathing, and digestion. top
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Specialized Alternative Rehabilitative Approaches for Kids
Vojta Therapy Website
Yoga helps develop cognitive and motor skills through movement and stretching.
For more information please see the following Web sites.
Yoga for the Special Child-


information taking from
copyrighted CPSTT 2006