Cerebral palsy (CP)

A general term referring to abnormalities of motor control caused by damage to a child’s brain early in the course of development.

A condition that results in a disturbance of motor function.

A disorder mainly due to brain damage occurring before birth, or due to lack of oxygen during birth, associated with poor coordination of muscular movements, impaired speech, hearing and sight, and sometimes mental impairment.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological movement disorder associated with brain damage occurring before, during, or soon after birth. This disorder is not progressive, although symptoms may not be evident until a child fails to meet, or shows delays in meeting, developmental milestones. CP is divided into four subtypes: spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed. Spastic CP is characterized by severe muscle contractions in arms and legs. Athetoid CP involves writhing movements of the extremities (athetosis). Ataxic CP involves the cerebellum, and lack of balance and coordination while standing or walking predominates. Spastic CP is the most common, occurring in approximately 50% of cases; athetoid CP occurs in 20-30% of cases; and ataxic and mixed occur less often. Severity of symptoms ranges from mild to severe.

A disorder caused by damage to the brain, especially affecting ability to control movement and posture. Palsy is a synonym for paralysis, although a more accurate description of the usual muscular symptoms might be weakness (paresis) and inability to make voluntary movements and to suppress involuntary ones. Depending on the location and extent of the damage, cerebral palsy can be mild, revealing itself as a kind of awkwardness, or severe, largely incapacitating a child from infancy. It is sometimes associated with other problems such as seizures (epilepsy), mental retardation, ear and hearing problems, eye and vision problems, communication disorders, and impairment of other senses. Some of those most severely affected may not survive infancy, but most will have a normal life span.

Loss or deficiency of muscle control due to permanent, non-progressive brain damage occurring before or at the time of birth. Symptoms include difficulty in walking, poor coordination of the limbs, lack of balance, speech or other sense organ difficulties, and sometimes mental retardation. Treatment depends on the difficulties present and may include leg braces, speech therapy, and antispasmodic or muscle-relaxing drugs.

A group of motor disorders caused by damage to motor centers of the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, or basal ganglia during fetal development, childbirth, or early infancy.

A brain defect, usually apparent at birth, that causes varying degrees of difficulty in muscle function and control.

The term for a group of chronic disorders that impair control of movement, appear in the first few years of life, and generally do not worsen over time.

An umbrella term for a group of chronic disorders that impair control of movement, appear in the first few years of life, and generally do not worsen over time. Cerebral palsy is characterized by a broad range of symptoms that may include seizures, muscle contractions, delayed development, mental retardation, gait (walking) abnormalities, spasticity, speech difficulties, vision problems, and hearing abnormalities.

A developmental abnormality of the brain resulting in weakness and incoordination of the limbs. The brain damage may be caused by injury during birth, hemorrhage, lack of oxygen before birth, meningitis, viral infection, or faulty development. The most common disability is a spastic paralysis (an affected child is called a spastic), which may slowly increase from contractures to cause fixed deformities of the limbs. Defective sensory perception (including lack of balance) is always present in some degree, and intelligence is often impaired. Posture and speech may be severely affected. Other disabilities that may occur include involuntary writhing movements (athetosis) and epilepsy.

The term used to describe a group of conditions characterised by varying degrees of paralysis and originating in infancy or early childhood. In some 80 per cent of cases this takes the form of spastic paralysis (muscle stiffness), hence the now obsolete lay description of sufferers as ‘spastics’. The incidence is believed to be around 2 or 2-5 per 1,000 of the childhood community. In the majority of cases the abnormality dates from well before birth: among the factors are some genetic malformations of the brain, a congenital defect of the brain, or some adverse effect on the fetal brain as by infection during pregnancy. Among the factors during birth that may be responsible is prolonged lack of oxygen, such as can occur during a difficult labour; this may be the cause in up to 15 per cent of cases. In some 10-15 per cent of cases the condition is acquired after birth, when it may be due to kernicterus, infection of the brain, cerebral thrombosis or embolism, or trauma. Acute illness in infancy, such as meningitis, may result in cerebral palsy.

An “umbrella” term for a group of non-progressive but often changing motor impairment syndromes secondary to lesions or anomalies of the brain arising in the early stages of its development. CP is a symptom complex rather than a specific disease. For the vast majority of children born at term in whom CP later develops, the disorder cannot reasonably be ascribed to birth injury or hypoxic-ischemic insults during delivery. CP rarely occurs without associated defects such as mental retardation (60% of cases) or epilepsy (50% of cases).

Nervous system damage that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth, resulting in a lack of full control of body movement.

Amid the intricate tapestry of human existence, there exists a poignant tale of challenges that emerge during the delicate phases preceding, during, or immediately after birth. Within this narrative, a profound consequence manifests—a form of brain damage that reverberates throughout the neurological landscape, giving rise to a notable absence of muscle coordination and intricate difficulties in the realm of speech. This evocative portrait paints a vivid picture of the resilience of the human spirit and the profound impact that early developmental factors can have on our intricate journey of growth and communication.

Cerebral palsy is a condition characterized by impaired posture and movement, caused by damage to the developing brain before, during, or shortly after birth, or during early childhood. It is non-progressive in nature. The severity of the disorder ranges from mild difficulties in hand movement and gait coordination to complete immobility.

In the majority of cases, the damage leading to cerebral palsy occurs either before or during birth, often due to cerebral hypoxia, which refers to an insufficient oxygen supply to the brain. Less commonly, the condition may be caused by a maternal infection that spreads to the baby while in the uterus.

In rare instances, kernicterus, which arises from an excess of bile pigment in infants with haemolytic disease of the newborn, can be a cause of cerebral palsy. Following birth, potential causes of cerebral palsy include conditions like encephalitis (inflammation of brain tissue), meningitis (inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain), head injury, or intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding within the brain).

Cerebral palsy might remain unnoticed until the first year of the baby’s life has advanced considerably. In the beginning, the newborn may exhibit hypotonic (limp) muscles, encounter challenges with feeding, and demonstrate a delay in achieving unsupported sitting. A child affected by this condition could subsequently develop spastic paralysis (abnormal muscle stiffness), athetosis (involuntary writhing movements), or ataxia (loss of coordination and balance). Additional neurological disorders, such as auditory impairments or epileptic seizures, may also manifest. Approximately 70 percent of children experience cognitive impairments, while the remaining individuals possess normal or high intellectual capabilities.

If there is suspicion of the condition based on the symptoms and through neurological and developmental evaluations, diagnostic procedures like CT scanning and MRI might be conducted to detect any brain abnormalities.

While there is currently no cure for cerebral palsy, significant efforts can be made to support children affected by this condition. A dedicated team of experts collaborating with the family can optimize the child’s functional abilities. Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in fostering muscular coordination and promoting balance. Additionally, speech therapy holds the potential to enhance speech and communication skills.