Role of child neurologists and neurodevelopmentalists in the diagnosis of cerebral palsy: A survey study

Bhooma R. Aravamuthan, Michael Shevell, Young Min Kim, Jenny L. Wilson, Jennifer A. O'Malley, Toni S. Pearson, Michael C. Kruer, Michael Fahey, Jeff L. Waugh, Barry Russman, Bruce Shapiro, Ann Tilton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To contextualize the role of child neurologists and neurodevelopmentalists (CNs/NDDs) in cerebral palsy (CP) care, we review the changing landscape of CP diagnosis and survey stakeholder CNs/NDDs regarding their roles in CP care. METHODS: The optimal roles of the multiple specialties involved in CP care are currently unclear, particularly regarding CP diagnosis. We developed recommendations regarding the role of CNs/NDDs noting (1) increasing complexity of CP diagnosis given a growing number of genetic etiologies and treatable motor disorders that can be misdiagnosed as CP and (2) the views of a group of physician stakeholders (CNs/NDDs from the Child Neurology Society Cerebral Palsy Special Interest Group). RESULTS: CNs/NDDs felt that they were optimally suited to diagnose CP. Many (76%) felt that CNs/NDDs should always be involved in CP diagnosis. However, 42% said that their patients with CP were typically not diagnosed by CNs/NDDs, and 18% did not receive referrals to establish the diagnosis of CP at all. CNs/NDDs identified areas of their expertise critical for CP diagnosis including knowledge of the neurologic examination across development and early identification of features atypical for CP. This contrasts with their views on CP management, where CNs/NDDs felt that they could contribute to the medical team, but were necessary primarily when neurologic coexisting conditions were present. DISCUSSION: Given its increasing complexity, we recommend early referral for CP diagnosis to a CN/NDD or specialist with comparable expertise. This contrasts with current consensus guidelines, which either do not address or do not recommend specific specialist referral for CP diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)962-972
Number of pages11
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2020

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