Cerebral palsy is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. Often, symptoms include poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles, and tremors. There may be problems with vision, hearing, swallowing, and speaking. Difficulty with the ability to think or reason and seizures each occurs in about one third of people with CP. While the symptoms may get more noticeable over the first few years of life, the underlying problems do not worsen over time.
Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal development or damage to the parts of the brain that control movement, balance, and posture. Most often the problems occur during pregnancy; however, they may also occur during childbirth, or shortly after birth. Often the cause is unknown. Risk factors include preterm birth, being a twin, certain infections during pregnancy. About 2% of cases are believed to be due to an inherited genetic cause.
Cerebral palsy can’t be cured, but treatment will often improve a child's capabilities. Many children go on to enjoy near-normal adult lives if their disabilities are properly managed. In general, the earlier treatment begins, the better chance children have of overcoming developmental disabilities or learning new ways to accomplish the tasks that challenge them.
Information resources recommended:
- United Cerebral Palsy (UCP)
- 1600 L Street, NW, Suite 700
- 121 Innerbelt Road, Room 220
- Washington, DC 20036
- 800-USA-5UCP (872-5827)
- Children's Neurobiological Solutions (CNS) Foundation
- 1223 Wilshire Blvd, #937
- Santa Monica, CA 90403
- 866-CNS-5580 (267-5580)