The Cerebral Palsy Program at Cincinnati Children’s provides:

  • Annual comprehensive visits for all established patients
  • Comprehensive evaluations for new patients who have been diagnosed with CP elsewhere
  • Comprehensive evaluations for children who have symptoms of CP but haven’t been diagnosed yet

During the evaluation, your family will meet with a rehabilitation doctor, nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, dietitian and social worker − all at once in the same location. At the end of this appointment, the team provides a detailed summary and recommends the next steps to help your child reach their potential.

Tests to Evaluate for Cerebral Palsy

During your child’s comprehensive evaluation the care team will:

  • Provide a thorough physical exam
  • Evaluate your child’s strength, mobility and development
  • Ask you questions about your child’s birth experience and medical history

The care team may recommend additional tests, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or genetic testing. These can provide valuable information about the underlying causes of a child’s symptoms and help guide the treatment plan.

A Commitment to Early Diagnosis

The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy may be evident at birth. But it usually isn’t until a child starts missing developmental milestones that parents and doctors realize there may be a problem. A comprehensive evaluation can provide answers, peace of mind and a path forward for your family.

An accurate, early diagnosis of CP is critical because it means that specialized therapy can begin as soon as possible − ideally, well before the age of 2. Pediatric occupational and physical therapists at Cincinnati Children’s engage babies with CP and those at high risk for CP in active processes that help develop skills. These therapists identify which active movements a baby is on the verge of developing and give the baby “just the right challenge” to achieve that skill. Exercises focus on active movements, such as head turning, reaching or weight bearing. The therapists engage family members in the therapy sessions so that activities can continue at home, between appointments.

Every baby who has CP or is at high risk for CP should have early, therapy-based interventions like this. Research shows that it can lead to better outcomes and an improved quality of life.

When to Seek an Evaluation for Cerebral Palsy

If your infant or toddler is experiencing any of the following concerns, we encourage you to schedule an evaluation at our clinic.

  • Is not meeting typical milestones for sitting, crawling or walking
  • Has an unusual walking style (bunny hopping, tiptoe walking) or unusual crawling style, such as scooting instead of crawling
  • Prefers to use one hand instead of the other
  • Has stiff, tight (spastic) muscles
  • Lacks good muscle control or coordination
  • Has speech issues such as slurring or struggling to form words
  • Has difficulty swallowing food or fluids

Children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy after the age of 2 certainly benefit from therapy as well. It is never too late to seek care from our team of CP specialists. Our team can evaluate, diagnose and provide personalized treatment plans for children of any age who have cerebral palsy.