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Testing for cerebral palsy is never an easy process, but if you understand what to expect beforehand and prepares yourself for the fact that your child may undergo a series of tests and exams, the process will go a bit smoother.

Although there isn’t one single exam or test that confirms cerebral palsy, a series of observations, screenings, and testing over this first 2 to 5 years is typically how the diagnosis is made. Testing can include measuring growth, development, and ruling out other conditions.

In some instances, cerebral palsy symptoms are so severe shortly after birth that a physician can make the diagnosis right away.Early diagnosis is important as the sooner intervention and treatment begins, the better the child’s quality of life can be.

All infants undergo screenings when born in order to uncover any disorders or medical issues. For example, all states in the nation administer screenings on newborns for sickle cell diseases, PKU (phenylketonuria), hypothyroidism, and galactosemia. Other screenings that occur in most states including hearing screenings and metabolism disorder screenings.

An APGAR (activity, pulse, grimace, appearance, and respiration) score is almost always performed on newborns in order to check for heart and respiratory health. A low APGAR may indicate that further screenings and possible tests are needed.

Although screenings will not diagnose cerebral palsy, they are an important factor in determining if further tests are needed in order to diagnose medical conditions that can’t be diagnosed with screenings alone.

Developmental screenings are generally given at certain ages (9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months) to see if the child is developing properly and rule out any issues. During 9 months of age, issues with an infant’s movements can be seen more easily when compared to birth. Cerebral palsy may be noticed at this stage, but physicians will need to run additional tests to be sure.

Mild movements, however, are easier seen when the baby turns 18 months old, but between 24 and 30 provides doctors with the best options in observing all kinds of movement.

These developmental screenings are extremely important as your child’s physician can start early intervention as soon as possible.Numerous early intervention services are available in most areas to help both children and families, including family training, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, assistive technology, and much more.

Tests, more definitive and conclusive when compared to screenings, can help rule out conditions and assist physicians in pinpointing cerebral palsy. As mentioned earlier, there is no single test to diagnose cerebral palsy, but if a doctor suspects the disorder, a series of tests will be conducted.


Surgeons treat injuries, diseases, and deformities through operations. Using a variety of instruments, a surgeon corrects physical deformities, repairs bone and tissue after injuries, or performs preventive or elective surgeries on patients. Although a large number perform general surgery, many surgeons choose to specialize in a specific area. Specialties include orthopedic surgery (the treatment of the musculoskeletal system), neurological surgery (treatment of the brain and nervous system), cardiovascular surgery, and plastic or reconstructive surgery. Like other physicians, surgeons examine patients, perform and interpret diagnostic tests, and counsel patients on preventive healthcare. Some specialist physicians also perform surgery.


Physicians and surgeons may work in a number of other medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties. The following specialists are some of the most common examples:

Physicians in healthcare establishments work daily with other healthcare staff, such as registered nurses , other physicians, medical assistants , and medical records and health information technicians .

Some physicians may choose to work in fields that do not involve patient care, such as medical research or public policy.

Surgeons and anesthesiologists usually work in well-lighted, sterile environments, and often stand for long periods.

Physicians and surgeons held about 713,800 jobs in 2016. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up physicians and surgeons was distributed as follows:

Increasingly, physicians are working in group practices, healthcare organizations, or hospitals, where they share a large number of patients with other doctors. The group setting allows them more time off and lets them coordinate care for their patients, but it gives them less independence than solo practitioners have.

Surgeons and anesthesiologists usually work in sterile environments while performing surgery and may stand for long periods.

Most physicians and surgeons work full time. Many physicians and surgeons work long, irregular, and overnight hours. Physicians and surgeons may travel between their offices and hospitals to care for their patients. While on call, a physician may need to address a patient’s concerns over the phone or make an emergency visit to a hospital or nursing home.

Physicians and surgeons may work in a medical specialty, such as cardiology, dermatology, pathology, or radiology.

Most applicants to medical school have at least a bachelor's degree, and many have advanced degrees. Although no specific major is required, students usually complete undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English. Students also may take courses in the humanities and social sciences. In addition, some students volunteer at local hospitals or clinics to gain experience in a healthcare setting.

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