Early detection and diagnosis of cerebral palsy: Implementing best practice guidelines in BC

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common physical disability in Canadian children. Current guidelines and assessments allow for diagnosis as early as four months. Early therapy can maximize a child’s abilities and prevent health complications. In the first two years of life, the brain is most able to reorganize and grow new pathways. Yet, the average age of diagnosis in BC is nearly 25 months. Parents feel stress and anxiety while waiting. A diagnosis helps families to understand what CP is, access therapies and plan for the future. Our survey showed many doctors lack the knowledge, skills, and confidence to diagnose early, and an understanding of families’ lived experience. Our strategy for change includes education, training, and sharing parents’ experiences. We will use online learning, resources, and interactive online and in-person workshops. Our aim is to support doctors to assess for and diagnose CP early, and help families through the diagnosis and next steps. We will measure doctors’ change in knowledge, skills, confidence, and diagnosing behaviours. Interviews will determine how well they liked the strategy. Then we will share our learnings with health care leaders, doctors and families to promote ongoing change.