What is a Cerebral Palsy Assessment?

Marisa O'Connor
Marisa O'Connor
An assessment can determine the type of cerebral palsy a person has.
An assessment can determine the type of cerebral palsy a person has.

A cerebral palsy assessment determines what type of cerebral palsy is present by observing the person's physical, sensory, perceptual, emotional, cognitive and social developmental levels. An assessment is necessary because cerebral palsy presents a wide variety of symptoms and affects no two people the same. A treatment and management plan can be formulated after the cerebral palsy assessment has determined the type of cerebral palsy.

The damage that causes cerebral palsy usually occurs before birth.
The damage that causes cerebral palsy usually occurs before birth.

Cerebral palsy is an effect of a brain injury suffered by a child before he or she is 2 years old. There are four main types of cerebral palsy. Athetoid cerebral palsy has the symptoms of uncontrolled and involuntary movement. Spastic cerebral palsy is distinguished by difficult and stiff movement. Ataxic cerebral palsy causes a disturbed sense of depth perception and balance. The fourth type of cerebral palsy is mixed cerebral palsy, which displays any combination of the other types' symptoms.

A cerebral palsy assessments can help determine which therapies will be most effective.
A cerebral palsy assessments can help determine which therapies will be most effective.

The cerebral palsy assessment involves observing the child's behavior and focusing on where limitations surface. The child is observed in several positions. Physical behaviors that the doctor will look for during assessment might include involuntary movements, the accuracy of the child's attempts to hold onto or let go of items and any parts of the body that remain in the same position when the rest of the body moves to another position.

A child with cerebral palsy may be prone to falls.
A child with cerebral palsy may be prone to falls.

In addition to observation, the cerebral palsy assessment might include developmental tests. These tests can include the pre-speech assessment scale, the Denver developmental screening test and developmental programming for infants and young children. The pre-speech assessment scale examines feeding behavior, respiration-phonation and sound play in children ages 2 and younger. The Denver developmental screening test assesses developmental delays in the areas of gross and fine motor development, language, adaptive behaviors and social behaviors in children from birth to age 6. Developmental programming for infants and young children evaluates gross and fine motor development, self care, perceptual development, language and cognition in children from birth to age 6.

Engaging in activities that help build fine motor skills may be beneficial to children living with cerebral palsy.
Engaging in activities that help build fine motor skills may be beneficial to children living with cerebral palsy.

It is very important that the child's comfort be given a great level of care during the cerebral palsy assessment, because of the age of the children during assessment and the nature of the symptoms. Reassessment should be a continuing part of the treatment plan. It also is important to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatments.

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    • An assessment can determine the type of cerebral palsy a person has.
      By: Jaren Wicklund
      An assessment can determine the type of cerebral palsy a person has.
    • The damage that causes cerebral palsy usually occurs before birth.
      By: Syda Productions
      The damage that causes cerebral palsy usually occurs before birth.
    • A cerebral palsy assessments can help determine which therapies will be most effective.
      By: Jaren Wicklund
      A cerebral palsy assessments can help determine which therapies will be most effective.
    • A child with cerebral palsy may be prone to falls.
      By: ivolodina
      A child with cerebral palsy may be prone to falls.
    • Engaging in activities that help build fine motor skills may be beneficial to children living with cerebral palsy.
      By: Petro Feketa
      Engaging in activities that help build fine motor skills may be beneficial to children living with cerebral palsy.