Cerebral palsy is a group of chronic disorders impairing control of movement that appear in the first few years of life and generally do not worsen over time. These disorders are caused by faulty development of or damage to motor areas in the brain that disrupts the brain's ability to control movement and posture.
Cerebral palsy may be congenital or acquired after birth. Congenital causes include brain injury or malformation due to:
Intrauterine hypoxia (low blood oxygen)
Problems with the placenta
In many instances, the cause of the brain abnormality is unknown.
Several of the causes of cerebral palsy that have been identified through research are preventable or treatable, including:
Some people with cerebral palsy are also affected by other medical disorders, such as
. But, cerebral palsy does not always cause intellectual disability.
Although its symptoms may change over time, cerebral palsy by definition is not progressive. If a patient shows increased impairment, the problem may be something other than cerebral palsy.
Roughly two out of 1,000 children are affected.
Cerebral palsy isn't curable. However, getting the right therapy for your child can make a big difference in reducing the long-term impact of the condition.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy vary widely and may include difficulty with fine motor tasks (such as writing or using scissors), difficulty maintaining balance or walking, and involuntary movements. The symptoms differ from person-to-person and may change over time.
Cerebral palsy first shows up in children aged three years or younger. Symptoms vary depending on what areas of the brain are affected. Some children may have severe disabilities. Although symptoms may change as the child grows older, his condition is unlikely to worsen.
Late to turn over, sit up, smile, or walk
Trouble writing, buttoning a button, or other fine motor activities
Difficulty walking or standing
Tight, spastic muscles
Unintentional body movements
Some people with cerebral palsy suffer from other medical disorders as well, including:
—a test that records the brain's electrical activity using electrodes placed on the surface of the head
of the head—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the head
—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the head
There is no treatment to cure cerebral palsy. The brain damage cannot be corrected. Therapy aims to help the child reach his full potential. Children with CP grow to adulthood and may be able to work and live independently.
Drugs help control muscle spasms and seizures.
or implantable pumps to deliver the medication baclofen—may be used for spasticity (increased muscle tone)
Certain operations may improve the ability to sit, stand, and walk.
Braces and splints help keep limbs in correct alignment and prevent deformities. Positioning devices enable better posture.
, special scooters, and
make it easier to move about.
Programs designed to meet the child's special needs may improve learning. Some children do well attending regular schools with special services. Vocational training can help prepare young adults for jobs.
Speech, physical, and occupational therapies may improve the ability to speak, move, walk, and perform activities of daily living. Physical therapy helps strengthen muscles. Children can learn different ways to complete difficult tasks.
Professional support helps a patient and family cope with cerebral palsy.
help parents learn how to modify behaviors. Caring for a child with cerebral palsy can be very stressful. Some families find
Therapeutic electrical stimulation might help.
Several of the causes of cerebral palsy that have been identified through research are preventable or treatable:
Ashwal S, Russman BS, Blasco PA, et al. Practice parameter: diagnostic assessment of the child with cerebral palsy: Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the Practice Committee of the Child Neurology Society.
Hazneci B, Tan AK, Guncikan MN, Dincer K, Kalyon TA.
Comparison of the efficacies of botulinum toxin A and Johnstone pressure splints against hip adductor spasticity among patients with cerebral palsy: a randomized trial.
Nolan KW, Cole LL, Liptak GS. Use of botulinum toxin type A in children with cerebral palsy.
Park ES, Park CI, Chang HC, Park CW, Lee DS.
The effect of botulinum toxin type A injection into the gastrocnemius muscle on sit-to-stand transfer in children with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.
Steinbok P. Selection of treatment modalities in children with spastic cerebral palsy.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a