Skip to main contentSkip to main content

Diagnosis

Speak to your health visitor or a GP if you're concerned about your child's development. If needed, they can refer you to a specialist team who can carry out an assessment.

Your child may have several tests to check for cerebral palsy or other possible causes of their symptoms.

But it may not be possible to make a definitive diagnosis for several months or years, as some symptoms are not obvious until a child is a few years old.

Examination and checks

First a specialist may:

  • ask about your child's medical history and development
  • check for any symptoms of cerebral palsy
  • ask about any problems during your pregnancy, during the birth or soon afterwards

An assessment of your child's movements and learning abilities may also be carried out.

Brain scans

A brain scan may be used to look for signs of cerebral palsy.

One or more of the following scans may be recommended:

  • a cranial ultrasound scan – a small handheld device that sends out sound waves is moved over the top of your child's head to create an image of their brain
  • an MRI scan – a scanner that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce a more detailed image of the brain
  • CT scan – a scanner that takes several X-ray pictures to create a detailed image of the brain

Other tests

Other tests that may be used to help confirm cerebral palsy and rule out other conditions include:

  • an electroencephalogram (EEG) – where small pads are placed on the scalp to monitor brain activity and check for signs of epilepsy
  • an electromyogram (EMG) – where tiny needles are gently inserted into the muscles and nerves to check how well they're working
  • blood tests to check for problems that can cause similar symptoms to cerebral palsy