Bhooma Aravamuthan, MD, DPhil: Inconsistencies in Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy


The assistant professor of neurology at the University of Washington in St. Louis discussed a study she and colleagues conducted which revealed significant differences between practitioners in diagnosing cerebral palsy.

“There are a lot of other disorders that we’re learning about that look like cerebral palsy but aren’t and are treatable—because of that the diagnosis is getting more and more complicated.”

At the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2020 Annual Meeting, data was accepted for presentation from a survey study conducted by Bhooma Aravamuthan, MD, DPhil, assistant professor of neurology, Division of Child Neurology/Movement Disorders, University of Washington in St. Louis, and colleagues. The study aimed to assess practice variability in cerebral palsy diagnosis, which has been beset by challenges for the last decade, in part due to the wide variety of specialists who care for these patients.

All told, the study found that despite having an international consensus definition for cerebral palsy for more than a decade, there were significant differences between diagnoses from neurologists and non-neurologists. In 1 of the scenarios presented in the study, non-neurologists cited hypotonia, normal MRI, and/or genetic diagnosis as exclusion criteria for cerebral palsy, while neurologists appeared to only cite genetic diagnosis, highlighting significant differences in their respective approaches.

To find out more about this undertaking and what the data suggest about the ability for neurologists to diagnose patients with cerebral palsy, NeurologyLive spoke with Aravamuthan virtually.

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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