Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a condition that effects the ability to control muscles and is due to nervous system damage before, during or after birth. This nervous system damage affects body movement and posture. It often shows up as either floppy or stiff muscles, or involuntary muscle movements.

Cerebral palsy can affect movement, coordination, muscle tone and posture. It can also be associated with impaired vision, hearing, speech, eating and learning.

Children with cerebral palsy tend to miss developmental milestones such as crawling, walking and talking. Usually, a confirmed diagnosis of cerebral palsy is made by the time a child is 2.

Cerebral palsy occurs when there is damage to the developing brain in the area that controls muscle tone (the motor cortex). In some cases, the motor cortex fails to develop normally in the fetus.

Risk factors for cerebral palsy can be:

  • prematurity and low birth weight
  • some pregnancy complications
  • an infection caught by the mother during pregnancy
  • prolonged loss of oxygen during pregnancy or childbirth, or severe jaundice after birth
  • injury or bleeding in the baby’s brain
  • mutations in the genes that affect the brain’s development
  • being a twin, triplet or other multiple birth

The cause remains unknown for most babies with cerebral palsy. There is no single cause of cerebral palsy.

The damage to the brain does not worsen with age, but it’s permanent. There is no cure. Life expectancy is normal, but the effects of cerebral palsy can cause stress to the body and premature ageing.

There are 4 main types of cerebral palsy:

  • spastic, in which the muscles are weak and stiff
  • dyskinetic, characterised by writhing or jerky movements
  • ataxic, in which movement is affected by problems with balance and coordination
  • mixed, with a range of the above characteristics

Sen4help: Resources Directory

Scope UK

For help, advice and support for both children and adults affected by

Cerebral Palsy.


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