Bhooma Aravamuthan, MD, DPhil: Improving Neurologists' Focus on Cerebral Palsy


The assistant professor of neurology at the University of Washington in St. Louis detailed the ­­factors that may contribute to these inconsistencies in cerebral palsy diagnosis and what role neurologists should play.

“Cerebral palsy has, as a disorder—even though it’s remarkably common and is the most common cause of motor disability in childhood—fallen kind of in the middle of several different specialties, and neurologists, as of late, have not taken real ownership over a lot of these patients.”

Bhooma Aravamuthan, MD, DPhil, assistant professor of neurology, Division of Child Neurology/Movement Disorders, University of Washington in St. Louis, and colleagues conducted a survey of a number of various health care physicians who come in contact with patients who may require a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Their aim was to assess practice variability in its diagnosis, one of the challenges in this space for the last decade.

Their data, which was set to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2020 Annual Meeting, revealed that in spite of the international consensus definition for cerebral palsy, significant differences between diagnoses from neurologists and non-neurologists were common. In their survey, the group offered 4 hypothetical, but common patient scenarios for diagnosis, and noted that in 1 of the scenarios, non-neurologists tended to cite hypotonia, normal MRI, and/or genetic diagnosis as exclusion criteria for cerebral palsy, while neurologists appeared to only cite genetics—a significant difference in respective approaches.

To find out more about what these data suggest about the factors that may contribute to these diagnosis inconsistencies, including lack of provider education and awareness, as well as the role neurologists play in the care of these patients with cerebral palsy, NeurologyLive spoke with Aravamuthan in an interview.

For more AAN 2020 coverage, click here.


Aravamuthan B, Fehlings D, Kruer M. High Practice Variability in Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis: Need for clarification of the consensus definition? Neurology. 2020;94(15 Suppl): 4860.

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