Signs vs. symptoms
Signs can be clinically substantiated; symptoms are subjective to an individual's personal experience. Signs are indicators of disease, disability or impairment detected through evaluation or testing administered by a medical professional.
Symptoms, however, are feelings experienced, perceived or expressed by the child as a result of a condition.
When diagnosing cerebral palsy, parents and doctors are typically looking at signs, especially in infants and toddlers, who do not have the capability yet to explain symptoms they are experiencing.
Signs are detected through medical evaluation, clinical tests, and practitioner observance. Although a parent may see signs of cerebral palsy when the child shows motor development delay, a doctor must rule out other conditions and formally diagnose the impairment.
The physician will also determine the extent, location and severity level of impairment, along with associative conditions or co-mitigating factors. Signs may vary by individual, depending on the brain injury or malformation and severity level. Examples of signs of cerebral palsy include:
- Not blinking at loud noises by one month
- Not sitting by seven months
- Not turning head toward sounds by four months
- Not verbalizing words by 12 months
- Walking with an abnormal gait
Symptoms are the effects of impairment an individual experiences. The child perceives and notices the symptoms, which are not necessarily visible to others. At such a young age, a child is limited in his or her ability to express symptoms and often relies on the careful observation of parents.
Symptoms, relayed to the medical practitioner, assists in the diagnosis process. Some symptoms of cerebral palsy include:
- Difficulty grasping objects
- Difficulty swallowing
- Inability to focus on objects
- Inability to hear