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Cerebral Palsy: Symptoms, Causes, Types, and Treatments

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a group of disorders that affect muscle movement and coordination. In many cases sight, hearing and feeling are also affected.

The word "cerebral" means that it has to do with the brain. The word "paralysis" means weakness or problems with body movement.

CP is the leading cause of motor disabilities in childhood. It affects at least 1.5 to 4 in 1,000 children worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What are the symptoms of cerebral disease?

Symptoms of CP vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. Some people with CP may have difficulty walking and sitting. Other people with CP may have difficulty grasping objects.

Symptoms can get more severe or less severe over time. They also vary depending on the part of the brain that was affected.

Some of the most common signs are:

  • Delays in reaching motor skill milestones, such as tipping over, sitting alone, or crawling.
  • Fluctuations in muscle tone, such as being too limp or too stiff.
  • Delays in language development and language disorders
  • Spasticity, or stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes.
  • Ataxia, or lack of muscle coordination
  • Shocks or involuntary movements
  • excessive drooling and difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty walking
  • Favoring one side of the body, such as grasping with one hand.
  • neurological problems such as seizures, intellectual disabilities, and blindness

Most children are born with CP, but they may not show signs of illness until months or years later. Symptoms usually appear before a child reaches 3 or 4 years of age.

Call your doctor if you suspect your child has CP. Early diagnosis and treatment are very important.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Abnormal brain development or an injury to the developing brain can cause CP. The damage affects the part of the brain that controls body movement, coordination, and posture.

The brain damage usually occurs before birth, but can also occur during birth or in the first few years of life. In most cases, the exact cause of CP is unknown. Some of the possible causes include:

  • Asphyxia neonatorum, or lack of oxygen in the brain during childbirth and childbirth.
  • Gene mutations that lead to abnormal brain development.
  • severe jaundice in the infant
  • Maternal infections, such as rubella and herpes simplex
  • Brain infections such as encephalitis and meningitis
  • intracranial bleeding or bleeding into the brain.
  • Head injuries as a result of a car accident, fall, or child abuse

Who is at risk for cerebral palsy?

Certain factors put babies at increased risk for CP. This includes:

  • Premature birth
  • low birth weight
  • is a twin or a triplet.
  • a low Apgar score, used to assess the physical health of babies at birth.
  • Breech birth, which occurs when your baby's buttocks or feet come out first.
  • Rh incompatibility, which occurs when a mother's blood Rh type is incompatible with her baby's blood Rh type.
  • maternal exposure to toxic substances, such as methylmercury, during pregnancy

What are the Different Types of Cerebral Palsy?

There are different types of CP that affect different parts of the brain. Each type causes specific movement disorders. The types of CP are:

Spastic cerebral palsy

Spastic CP is the most common type of CP and affects approximately 80 percent of people with CP. It causes stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes, making walking difficult.

Many people with spastic CP have walking abnormalities, such as crossing their knees or scissoring-like movements with their legs when walking. Muscle weakness and paralysis can also be present.

Symptoms can affect the whole body or just one side of the body.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy

People with dyskinetic CP have difficulty controlling their body movements. The disorder causes involuntary, abnormal movements in your arms, legs, and hands.

In some cases, the face and tongue are also affected. The movements can be slow and crooked or quick and jerky. They can make it difficult for them to walk, sit, swallow, or talk.

Hypotonic cerebral palsy

Hypotonic CP causes decreased muscle tone and excessively relaxed muscles. The arms and legs move very easily and appear limp, like a rag doll.

Babies with this type of CP have little head control and may have difficulty breathing. As they get older, their weakened muscles can make it difficult for them to sit up straight. They can also have difficulty speaking, poor reflexes, and difficulty walking.

Ataxic cerebral palsy

Ataxic CP is the least common type of CP. Ataxic CP is characterized by voluntary muscle movements that often appear disordered, clumsy, or jerky.

People with this form of CP usually have problems with balance and coordination. They may have difficulty walking and performing fine motor functions, such as grasping objects and writing.

Mixed cerebral palsy

Some people have a combination of symptoms from different types of CP. This is known as mixed CP.

In most cases of mixed CP, people experience a mix of spastic and dyskinetic CP.

How is cerebral palsy classified?

Cerebral palsy is classified according to the Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS). The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Monitoring of Cerebral Palsy in Europe have developed the GMFCS as a universal standard for determining the physical performance of people with CP.

The system focuses on:

  • the ability to sit
  • the ability to move and be mobile
  • chart independence
  • the use of adaptive technology

The five levels of the GMFCS increase with decreasing mobility:

Cerebral palsy stage 1

Level 1 CP is characterized by the fact that it is possible to walk without restrictions.

Cerebral palsy stage 2

A level 2 CP person can walk long distances without restrictions, but cannot run or jump.

They may need aids such as leg and arm rests when learning to walk for the first time. They may also have to use a wheelchair to get around outside of their home.

Cerebral palsy stage 3

A person with level 3 CP can sit with little support and stand without support.

They need portable aids, such as a walker or cane, when walking around the house. You will also need a wheelchair to get around outside the house.

Cerebral palsy level 4

A person with level 4 CP can walk with the help of aids.

You can move around independently in a wheelchair and need some support while sitting.

Cerebral palsy level 5

A level 5 CP person needs support to maintain their head and neck position.

They need help sitting and standing, and they can control a motorized wheelchair.

How is cerebral palsy diagnosed?

A doctor diagnoses CP by taking a full medical history, performing a physical exam that includes a detailed neurological exam, and evaluating symptoms. Additional tests can also be performed:

  • An electroencephalogram (EEG) is used to assess electrical activity in the brain. It can be ordered when someone is showing signs of epilepsy causing seizures.
  • An MRI scan uses powerful magnets and radio waves to get detailed images of the brain. It can identify any abnormalities or injuries in the brain.
  • A CT scan produces clear, cross-sectional images of the brain. It can also reveal any brain damage.
  • A skull ultrasound is a relatively quick and inexpensive way to use high-frequency sound waves to obtain basic images of the brain in infants.
  • A blood sample can be drawn and tested to rule out other possible conditions, such as bleeding disorders.

If your doctor confirms CP, they can refer you to a specialist who can test for neurological problems that are often related to the condition. These tests can detect:

  • Loss of vision and impairment, such as blurred vision in one or both eyes.
  • Deafness
  • Speech delays
  • intellectual disabilities
  • Movement disorders

What Other Conditions Are Associated With Cerebral Palsy?

People with CP may have other problems, such as:

  • Communication difficulties, including speech and language disorders
  • drooling
  • Spinal deformities such as scoliosis (curvature), lordosis (back of the saddle) and kyphosis (hump)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Contractures that occur when muscles are immobilized in painful positions.
  • Incontinence
  • Osteopenia, or poor bone density that can break bones easily.
  • Dental problems

How is it cerebral? Paralysis treated?

The aim of treatment is to improve restrictions and avoid complications. Treatment may include assistive devices, medication, and surgery.

Support aids

Aids include:

  • glasses
  • Hearing aids
  • Walking aids
  • Body mount
  • Wheelchairs


Oral anticonvulsants and muscle relaxants are often used as first-line treatment for CP. Your doctor can prescribe medication for you:

  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Dantrolene (Dantrium)
  • Baclofen
  • Tizanidine (Zanaflex)

Your doctor may also suggest local injections of botulinum toxin type A (botox) or intrathecal baclofen therapy, where the drug is delivered by an implantable pump.


Orthopedic surgery can be used to relieve pain and improve range of motion. It may also be needed to loosen tight muscles or correct bone abnormalities caused by spasticity.

Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) can be recommended as a last resort to reduce chronic pain or spasticity. This involves cutting the nerves near the base of the spine.

Other treatment

Other types of treatment for CP include:

  • Speech therapy
  • physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Counseling or psychotherapy
  • Consultations in the social field

Although stem cell therapy is being researched as a potential treatment for CP, research is still in its infancy.

How can cerebral palsy be prevented?

Most of the problems that cause CP cannot always be avoided. However, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, there are certain preventive measures you can take to minimize complications.

It is important to get vaccinated against diseases that can cause fetal brain damage, such as rubella. Appropriate prenatal care is also crucial. Attending regular appointments with your doctor during pregnancy can help prevent premature delivery, low birth weight, and infection.

What is the long term for people with cerebral palsy?

There is no cure for CP, but the condition can often be treated and treated effectively. The specific type of treatment varies from person to person. Some people with CP may not need very much help and others need comprehensive, long-term management of their symptoms.

Regardless of the severity of the condition, treatment can improve the lives of those with CP. The following points can help many people improve their motor and communication skills:

  • Aids
  • Medication
  • therapy
  • surgery