Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

Doctors diagnose cerebral palsy by testing an infant's motor skills and ordering specialized medical tests.

Motor Skills – doctors will look for:

  • slow development
  • abnormal muscle tone
  • unusual posture
  • reflexes cues such as Moro cue
  • early development of hand preference

Specialized Medical Test – doctors will analyze and review:

  • CT, MRI to reveal areas of the brain that are underdeveloped with abnormal cysts or other physical problems.
  • Ultrasonography. This technique bounces sound waves off the brain and uses the pattern of echoes to form a picture, or sonogram, of its structures. Ultrasonography can be used in infants before the bones of the skull harden and close. Although it is less precise than CT and MRI scanning, this technique can detect cysts and structures in the brain, is less expensive, and does not require long periods of immobility.

Review Other Conditions Linked to CP:

  • seizure disorders
  • mental impairment
  • vision
  • hearing problems
  • intelligence

Apgar Scoring for Newborns

A score is given for each sign at one minute and five minutes after the birth. If there are problems with the baby an additional score is given at 10 minutes. A score of 7-10 is considered normal, while 4-7 might require some resuscitative measures, and a baby with apgars of 3 and below requires immediate resuscitation.

  Sign 0 Points 1 Point 2 Points
A Appearance (Skin Color) Blue-gray, pale all over Normal, except for extremities Normal over entire body
P Pulse Absent Below 100 bpm Above 100 bpm
G Grimace (Reflex Irritability) No Response Grimace Sneeze, cough, pulls away
A Activity (Muscle Tone) Absent Arms and Legs Flexed Active Movement
R Respiration Absent Slow, irregular Good, crying

The Apgar score was published in 1953. Ten years later an acronym was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that helpled teach the Apgar score by using the letters of Dr. Virginia Apgar's last name. This acronym was co-authored by Dr. Joseph Butterfield.

Dr. Virginia Apgar's test for babies

When a baby is born, the new parents immediately memorize the child's weight, length and time of birth. But there's an equally important vital statistic they frequently note: the child's "Apgar score."

Dr. Virginia Apgar, a Westfield, NJ native, developed the now famous test that measures the infant's physical condition minutes after birth. Her efforts led at least one health official to credit her with doing more to improve the health of mothers, babies and the unborn than perhaps anyone this century.