Cerebral palsy (CP) is a term referring to a nonprogressive disease of the brain originating during the antenatal, neonatal, or early postnatal period when brain neuronal connections are still evolving. Secondary effects of spasticity on growth may, however, be progressive. There may be additional disturbances of sensation, perception, cognition, communication, and behavior. Babies who are neurologically abnormal as newborns are at increased risk of neurologic abnormality in later months and years. Being born preterm (born <37 weeks of gestation) or with a very low birth weight (weighing <1500 g/<32 weeks of gestation) or extreme low birth weight (<1000 g/<28 weeks of gestation) is associated with significant motor impairment. Which specific signs in the neonate are of greatest predictive power, what long-term disability these signs predict, and how well they predict it remain unclear? Physician’s major concern is to identify specific risk factors for severe impairment in early infancy so as to predict the developmental outcome of those children that may manifest later on with neurological deficit especially if they have perinatal insult. Parents on the other hand are also concerned about their growing infants, their development, and neurological outcome. Since cerebral palsy is a permanent disorder, early detection of signs of motor impairment is crucial to assist physicians to give close follow-up of those infants and to reassure parents whose children are normal. It has been shown that intervention may be most efficient when the plasticity of the brain is high, and an early detection of brain impairment is therefore crucial. An earlier follow-up and training program can have a positive effect of the motor development of the child with CP, in particular through prevention of limb contractions, and might make a difference in the child’s ability to handle everyday challenges. In addition, an early detection of CP gives the parents more time for adjustment and preparation. Since clinical manifestations of cerebral palsy do not emerge before a child is at least 6 months, the general movement (GM) is considered the most reliable early markers for monitoring of fetal and infant movement. Abnormal General movements and absence of the so-called fidgety movements at 3-5 months post-term carries a high risk of developing cerebral palsy. Beside a high specificity (82–99%) and sensitivity (95–100%), the assessment of the general movements (GMs) is quick, nonintrusive, and easy to acquire.
Part of the book: Cerebral Palsy