Australian researchers discover cerebral palsy breakthrough

SYDNEY — Australian researchers have discovered a new diagnosis method that allows doctors to identify cerebral palsy at birth, rather than waiting up to 19 months to begin treatment, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported on Tuesday.

Some Australian hospitals are already using the method and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) has called for its introduction in clinics around the world.

“We have the tools, but we haven’t put them into routine clinical practice and we must for infants’ well-being and for parent well-being,” Professor Iona Novak, head of research at CPA, said.

“Because we know that late diagnosis doesn’t really help parents, they’re better to receive it early and actually find the best way to help the infant.

“The other things we’re going to be telling people is that there’s new, emergent data suggesting that (using) what we call motor learning approaches …is the best way to optimize the brain, ” he said.

“If we use these early in cerebral palsy, we might have the possibility of reducing the severity of this condition.”

CPA research fellow Cathy Morgan said the general movements assessment is a big breakthrough in early intervention.

“So we know that around three months we can detect cerebral palsy with about 95 percent accuracy,” she said.

“And, what we’ve been able to do is get all the neonatal units in Sydney (to) have staff trained in the use of this tool.

“It now means that babies at high risk can be screened using this tool and we can find, from all these babies who are sick, we can pick out the ones that are most at risk of cerebral palsy and start the intervention early. And that’s a really, really big step forward.”

Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in childhood. It affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills.

Morgan said a large proportion of patients have problems with feeding and language and nearly half will have an intellectual impairment. Xinhua

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