What is the most common physical disability in children, affecting 1 in 323 babies each year? Cerebral palsy (CP).

But with early detection—CP can be identified in patients as early as 3-months-oldcomes great benefits in treatment options. 

At Cincinnati Children's, the Infant Motor Evaluation Clinic (IMEC) team provides a comprehensive evaluation of infants who have issues with motor development. The clinic is staffed with a pediatric neurologist, a pediatric rehabilitation medicine physician, a pediatric physical therapist and a care coordinator who specialize in the care of infants.

Focusing on early intervention, experts from Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy (OT / PT) use CP-specific intense motor-learning and task-specific approaches to improve a child’s outcome and quality of life. 

Charlie is one of many IMEC patients at Cincinnati Children’s who demonstrates the success that can be achieved with early OT / PT.

“Cerebral Palsy, because it is a motor disorder, it affects a child’s ability to move,” said Gretchen Mueller, an OT / PT High Risk Team Lead at Cincinnati Children’s. “Our job as OT’s and PT’s is to use very CP-specific interventions when the child is diagnosed with CP to improve their motor function and get them as independent as possible.

"Our goal is when we do identify that they have what we call these ‘infant detectable risks’ for CP that we get them referred to our Infant Motor Evaluation Clinic.”

“When Charlie turned about 5-months-old, we started to notice that he just wasn’t meeting developmental milestones like we had seen with our two previous children, so we asked his pediatrician who said ‘all kids develop at their own rate at their own times’ but something in my mom gut told me something is not right,” said Chelsea Wirtz, Charlie’s mom.

“The IMEC Clinic is critical in this process for diagnosing CP early,” said Mueller. “The patients are really thriving, not only with goals like walking but everyday skills, feeding skills and just being able to interact and play with their peers. You are seeing them meet those milestones quicker.”

“Just to see those results, that’s been reassuring to us that he’s going to be OK,” Wirtz said. “And for us, that’s all we want.”