Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle tone or posture. It is caused by damage that occurs to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth. Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool. Cerebral palsy generally causes impaired mobility associated with exaggerated reflexes, limb and trunk weakness or spasticity, unusual posture, involuntary movements, unsteady gait, or some combination thereof.
People with cerebral palsy may have difficulty swallowing and commonly have eye muscle imbalances where the eyes do not focus on the same object. They may also have reduced range of motion in various joints of their body due to muscle stiffness.
The cause of cerebral palsy and its effect on function varies widely. Some people with cerebral palsy can walk; others need help. Some people have mental disabilities, but others don’t. Epilepsy, blindness, or deafness may also be present. Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disease. There is no cure, but treatment can help improve function.
Mixed cerebral palsy occurs when a child shows symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy. Children diagnosed with mixed types of cerebral palsy have suffered damage to the motor control centers in several parts of the brain.
The symptoms of mixed cerebral palsy vary according to the localization of movement disorders and the resulting combination of types of cerebral palsy. These movement problems can occur in the legs (diplegia), one half of the body (hemiplegia), or all four limbs (quadriplegia).
Some cases of brain injuries leading to mixed cerebral palsy are preventable and are caused by medical negligence. Your family may be entitled to legal action if you believe your child’s injuries could have been prevented.
Doctors classify CP according to the main type of movement disorder. Depending on which areas of the brain are affected, one or more of the following movement disorders may occur:
There are four main types of CP:
The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy can vary greatly from person to person. Cerebral palsy can affect the whole body, or it can be primarily limited to one or two limbs or one side of the body. Generally, signs and symptoms include problems with movement and coordination, speech and eating, development, and other problems.
Brain damage can contribute to other neurological problems, such as:
The brain disorder causing cerebral palsy does not change over time, so symptoms usually do not worsen with age. However, as the child gets older, some symptoms may become more or less obvious. And muscle shortening and muscle stiffness can get worse if not treated aggressively.
Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain of a fetus or child. It can be difficult to determine the exact cause of brain damage, but there are several factors that can cause a child to develop this condition.
Common causes of cerebral palsy include:
Cerebral palsy affects children in many physical and neurological ways. The severity of the condition and the extent of associated movement problems vary depending on the type of brain damage a child suffers. On the other hand, there are a number of symptoms and signs of cerebral palsy.
Many cases of cerebral palsy are not diagnosed until toddlerhood because signs and symptoms can be difficult to identify. Watching for certain signs of cerebral palsy can help your child get an early diagnosis and proper treatment.
Baby positioning Some of the symptoms of cerebral palsy in newborns caused by brain damage during birth may go unnoticed in infants. It may not be noticeable, but there may be an abnormality in brain development.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy in infants may include:
It is important to get a quick diagnosis of your child’s movement disorder or developmental delay. See your child’s doctor if you are concerned about episodes of loss of awareness of your surroundings or unusual body movements or muscle tone, impaired coordination, difficulty swallowing, eye muscle imbalances, or other developmental problems.
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