Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua.


Introduction to cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects movement, posture and co-ordination. This may be seen at or around the time of birth or may not become obvious until early childhood. Cerebral palsy is a wide-ranging condition and can affect people in many different ways.

Cerebral palsy is more common than generally realised. We believe about one in every 400 children is affected by the condition – that’s about 1,800 babies are diagnosed with cerebral palsy in Great Britain every year. Cerebral palsy can affect people from all social backgrounds and ethnic groups.

Causes of cerebral palsy

It is often not possible for doctors to give an exact reason why part of a baby's brain has been injured or failed to develop, as there may be no obvious single reason why a person has cerebral palsy. Causes of cerebral palsy can be multiple and complex. Some studies suggest that cerebral palsy is mainly due to factors affecting the brain before birth. Known possible causes include:

  • Infection in the early part of pregnancy.
  • Difficult or premature birth.
  • A cerebral (brain) bleed. This is more common following premature or multiple birth.
  • Abnormal brain development.
  • A genetic link (though this is quite rare).

    Types of cerebral palsy

    Cerebral palsy affects the messages sent between the brain and the muscles. There are three types of cerebral palsy: spastic, dyskinetic (also known as athetoid or dystonic) and ataxic and generally relate to which part of the brain has been affected. The effects of cerebral palsy vary enormously from one person to another, with some people having a combination of two or more types.

    It is often difficult for a doctor to predict accurately how a young child with cerebral palsy will be affected later in life. Cerebral palsy is not progressive, i.e. it does not become more severe as the child gets older, although some difficulties may become more noticeable.

    There is no cure for cerebral palsy. If children are positioned well from an early age and encouraged to move in a way that helps them to improve their posture and muscle control, they can be supported to develop and achieve more independence for themselves. There are also a number of therapies, which may be beneficial for some individuals. Read more about this.

    Spastic cerebral palsy

    ‘Spastic' means ‘stiff' and this form of cerebral palsy causes the muscles to stiffen and decreases the range of movement in the joints. It is the most common form of cerebral palsy and can affect different areas of the body. Generally someone with spastic cerebral palsy has to work hard to walk or move. If the person is only affected on one side of their body the term used to describe this is ‘hemiplegia'.

    If their legs are affected but their arms are unaffected or only slightly affected, this is known as ‘diplegia'. If both arms and both legs are equally affected, then the term used is ‘quadriplegia'.

    Dyskinetic (also dystonic or athetoid) cerebral palsy

    Dyskinetic means difficulty with movement. People with dyskinetic cerebral palsy make involuntary movements, because their muscle tone changes rapidly from floppy and loose to tense and still, in a way they cannot control. Speech can be hard to understand as there may be difficulty controlling the tongue, breathing and vocal cords. Hearing problems are also common. Dystonic cerebral palsy affects the movement of the body and presents as slow, rhythmic twisting movements of the trunk, or an arm or leg. It can also include abnormal postures.

    Ataxic cerebral palsy

    People with ataxic cerebral palsy find it very difficult to balance. They may also have poor spatial awareness, which means it is difficult for them to judge their body position relative to other things around them. Ataxia affects the whole body. Most people with ataxic cerebral palsy can walk but they will probably be unsteady. They may also have shaky hand movements and irregular speech.

    It can be difficult to state what type of cerebral palsy a person has as they may have a combination of two or more types. It is important to bear in mind that no two people with cerebral palsy are affected in the same way. Some have cerebral palsy so mildly that its effects are barely noticeable. Others may be extremely affected and require help with many or all aspects of daily life.

    Other associated difficulties

    Other difficulties and medical conditions may occur more commonly in people with cerebral palsy but just because a person has cerebral palsy does not mean that they will also have other difficulties. However it may help you to be aware of some of them:

    Calculette pret

  • Children with cerebral palsy may have problems with constipation or sleeping. The doctor or health visitor should be able to offer advice about this.
  • People with cerebral palsy may have problems with speech and associated difficulties in chewing and swallowing. They may also have problems understanding the spoken word. A speech and language therapist may be able to offer advice.
  • Some people with cerebral palsy may also have epilepsy. Often medication can help to manage this.
  • Some people with cerebral palsy may have difficulty distinguishing and comparing shapes. This is to do with visual or spatial perception, which is about a person's ability to interpret what they have seen and not a problem with their eyesight.
  • People with cerebral palsy may also have some form of learning difficulties, making them slow to learn. The difficulties can be mild, moderate or severe. There may be a ‘specific learning difficulty' or problems with a particular activity such as reading, drawing or arithmetic because a specific area of the brain is affected.
  • It is important to remember that even someone severely physically affected by cerebral palsy may have average or above average intelligence.