Cerebral Palsy

Overview

Cerebral palsy describes a group of problems that affects body movement and posture. The condition is related to a brain injury or to problems with brain growth and causes uncontrollable reflex movements and muscle tightness that may affect parts or all of the body.

Symptoms

Although the severity of cerebral palsy symptoms may vary, all of the symptoms cause problems with body movement and posture. Symptoms may appear with a slight limp or difficulty walking. In more severe cases, patients have little or no control over arms and legs, or have difficulty eating and speaking. Patients with severe forms of cerebral palsy are more likely to have other problems, such as seizures or intellectual disability.

Some babies do not show clear signs of cerebral palsy at birth because the brain injury or problem that causes the condition may cause new symptoms to appear or worsen over time. In more severe cases, infants may exhibit either a very floppy or a very stiff posture. Birth defects, such as an abnormally-shaped spine, small jawbone, or small head, may also occur with cerebral palsy.

Causes

In many cases, it may be difficult to determine the exact cause of cerebral palsy. But the condition is known to be caused by a brain injury or problem that occurs during pregnancy, birth, or within the first two to three years of life.
Some of the identified causes include:
  • Premature birth
  • Lack of blood, oxygen, or other nutrients before or during birth
  • A serious head injury
  • A serious infection that can affect the brain, such as meningitis
  • Genetic conditions that affect brain development

Diagnosis

A cerebral palsy diagnosis is usually based on a child's medical history, including growth and development. A physical exam and tests including ultrasound, a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may help determine the cause of cerebral palsy.

Although severe forms of cerebral palsy may be identified within the first few weeks of a child’s life, it can take several months to several years to confirm a diagnosis.

Complications

Complications of cerebral palsy may include intellectual disability, seizures, and vision and hearing problems.

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Other Treatments

  • Assistive Technology
  • Electrodiagnostic Medicine
  • Musculoskeletal Medicine
  • Pain Management
  • Pediatric Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy (PT)/Occupational Therapy (OT)/Sp
  • Rehabilitation Counseling
  • Rehabilitation Psychology/Psychotherapy