Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that causes problems with muscle function, coordination and balance. Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Network offers a full team of specialists to diagnose and treat cerebral palsy.

We know that living with cerebral palsy can be difficult for children and families. Our treatment teams include board-certified pediatric neurologists, therapy professionals and nurse navigators working to improve your child’s quality of life.

Why Choose Mary Bridge for Cerebral Palsy Treatment?

Parents and referring physicians choose us for cerebral palsy treatment because we provide:

  • Board-certified experts: At Mary Bridge, your child will only see experienced physicians with deep expertise treating neurological conditions.
  • Comprehensive care: We provide individualized care plans that address your child’s unique needs, including for related  sleep disorders or  epilepsy. Our complex care team also helps coordinate treatment for children with disabilities.
  • Personalized support: Our personal health partner (PHP) teams include a nurse and a social worker to guide you, assist with care coordination and answer your questions.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy affects the area of the brain responsible for muscle movement. Risk factors include early head injuries or brain damage, low birth weight and premature birth.

Common symptoms of cerebral palsy include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Stiff or floppy muscles
  • Spasticity or jerking movements
  • Abnormal gait or walk
  • Crouched posture

Not all children with cerebral palsy have profound disabilities, and symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Many children with cerebral palsy have normal intelligence and attend regular schools.

Related Neurological Conditions

Our expert team is experienced treating a wide range of neurological disorders. Other neurological conditions that may occur with cerebral palsy include:

  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • Problems with bladder and bowel control
  • Hearing loss and vision impairment

Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy

Your child’s regular checkups between 9 and 30 months should include monitoring for developmental delays. If the pediatrician suspects a developmental delay, the doctor should refer your child for further evaluation.

Our board-certified pediatric neurologists have significant expertise in diagnosing cerebral palsy. We provide a complete developmental evaluation of your child, also performing additional tests to investigate the cause of cerebral palsy. These tests may include:

  • CT (computerized tomography) scan: This procedure combines X-rays with computer technology to create detailed images of internal structures. During the scan, your child will need to lie on a small table that slides through a large donut-shaped machine.
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): This type of scan uses radio waves and powerful magnets to create detailed images of bones and tissue. For an MRI, your child will lie on a small table that slides into a tunnel-shaped machine. An MRI takes approximately 40 minutes, possibly longer when a child requires sedation. We have technology available so your child can watch a movie during the MRI.
  • EEG (electroencephalogram): An EEG measures brain activity with small electrodes (discs) placed on the scalp. We offer inpatient and outpatient EEG testing, as well as in-home or ambulatory EEG to make testing easier for your child. Outpatient EEG takes just 1 to 2 hours, with inpatient EEG lasting up to 24 hours. For longer tests, we can outfit your child with portable EEG equipment for in-home testing.

We have child life specialists available to explain procedures in child-friendly language and a sedation services team to help your child comfortable during any tests. Learn more about  diagnosis and testing.

Cerebral Palsy Treatment at Mary Bridge

Early treatment improves the chances of children overcoming or learning to cope with developmental disabilities. Our team is here to help ensure the best possible outcome for your child.

Treatments and  support services available through our neurology clinic include:

  • Medication management: Prescription drugs to relieve muscle stiffness such as Gablofen® (baclofen) and Botox® (onabotulinumtoxinA) can improve function in children with cerebral palsy.
  • Pediatric rehabilitation: Our  Rehabilitation Medicine program uses tailored therapies to help children with disabilities achieve their highest level of functioning. Through our  Children’s Therapy Unit (CTU), we offer physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy experts to help improve your child’s skills and abilities.
  • Equipment specialists: CTU equipment specialists ensure your child has necessary equipment such as braces, wheelchairs, walkers and communication devices.
  • Complex care team: This team helps coordinate services such as home care, rehab and equipment specialists for children with disabilities. Learn more about the complex care team.
  • School accommodations: Our nurse navigators and social workers work with your child’s school to manage issues and ensure appropriate accommodations are in place.
  • Respite care: We can point you to outside resources that provide respite care to give parents a break from the stress of caring for a high-needs child.
  • Adult care services: Depending on your child’s needs, we can connect you with local resources to help you transition to adult services.

Contact Us

Call us at 253-792-6630 to make an appointment with one of our specialists.