Assessments and Testing

Dad and two daughters holding Owen (born two months ago with CP) in a rocking chair in the NICU

Clinicians utilize a variety of tests and assessments to diagnosis and determine the specific cause of cerebral palsy. They also use tests and assessments to help determine the severity of the symptoms and associated conditions, as well as monitor changes and track progress over time. Tests and assessments are often used in research to help researchers understand if treatments or therapies are effective. This section will provide information about a variety of tests and assessments that can be used to diagnose cerebral palsy, determine severity, determine functional capability at a given point in time and track progress or change over time.

Diagnostic Tests and Assessments

Doctors utilize a variety of medical tests to help diagnose cerebral palsy and often, based on the results of the tests, get a better understanding of the type of cerebral palsy someone has. These tests can also help rule out if someone has something other than cerebral palsy, such as a metabolic or coagulation disorder. These diagnostic tests include brain imaging studies, laboratory tests and electroencephalogram (EEG). Clinicians also use assessments for infants at high risk of cerebral palsy which look at the way the baby moves and which predict cerebral palsy.

Functional Scales and Assessments

It is important to understand the severity of cerebral palsy and how it impacts how someone functions in different life situations.  Evaluations will look closely at motor skills, posture, muscle tone, reflexes and evaluate movement or motor delays and differences.  Through this process, clinicians can use assessments to make predictions about how cerebral palsy may impact a child, plan services and intervention. Assessments can also be used to look at progress over time and often are used in research.  

Check back soon as we are adding more articles and resources surrounding functional scales and assessments.

These videos cover a range of topics related to tests and assessments for cerebral palsy and the many ways it can impact someone's life.