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About Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is the general term for a number of neurological conditions that affect movement and co-ordination.

Cerebral (areas of the brain that control muscles, movement and co-ordination) Palsy (Paralysis, usually with associated tremors)


These conditions are usually caused by an injury to the brain before, during or shortly after birth. Causes of Cerebral Palsy include;

  • An infection caught by the mother during pregnancy

  • Lack of oxygen to the brain

  • A difficult or premature birth

  • Bleeding in the baby’s brain

  • Changes in the genes that affect the brains development

Generally symptoms will become apparent during the first three years of a child’s life. They may be slower at reaching developmental goals such as learning to crawl, walk or talk. The main symptoms can depend on the specific form of cerebral palsy that a person has and are as follows;

  • Muscle stiffness or floppiness

  • Muscle weakness

  • Random and uncontrolled body movements

  • Balance and co-ordination problems


There can also be a number of associated problems including;

  • Repeated fits or seizures (Epilepsy)

  • Swallowing difficulties and drooling

  • Learning difficulties

  • Communication difficulties

  • Visual impairment

  • Hearing loss

  • Skeletal abnormalities, especially in the hip and spine area



As the condition can be so broad, no two people with Cerebral Palsy have exactly the same problems or symptoms, however there are four main categories that Cerebral Palsy falls in to and are described by the NHS as;


  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy – when the muscles are weak and stiff, especially if moving them quickly

  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy – when muscle tone varies between stiffness and floppiness, causing random and uncontrolled body movements or involuntary spasms.

  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – when a person has balance and co-ordination problems, resulting in jerky and clumsy movements. They may also experience involuntary shaking in their hands.

  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy – when a person has features of more than one of the types listed above.


The degree to which a person displays symptoms of cerebral palsy can vary greatly, ranging from very mild to severe. Some cases affect only one side of the body, some primarily the legs and some affect both arms and legs (quadrapelgic).


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