Cerebral Palsy

The symptoms of CP can be managed.Cerebral palsy (CP) is a term used to describe a diverse group of conditions that affect body movement and muscle coordination. “Cerebral” refers to the brain and “palsy” to muscle weakness and poor control. Cerebral palsy most often refers to a movement problem caused by damage to the brain at an early age.

Cerebral palsy affects one out of every 323 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CP does not get worse over time.  But as children grow, the things they can do may change due to normal growth and development. Cerebral palsy is not yet curable, but the symptoms of CP can be managed.  There are different therapies that can make it easier for a child to enjoy activities at home, at school and in the community.

Children who have CP may also have other issues, such as:

  • Speech and language delays
  • Trouble with reasoning
  • Epilepsy
  • Trouble with vision 

However, someone with CP may have none of these issues.

Children with CP will be more likely to have the best quality of life if they are diagnosed and get treatment early. 

CP is the most common physical disability in children.  It can be caused from:

  • Bleeding in the brain due to prematurity
  • Developmental malformations of the brain
  • Infections that affect the brain
  • Abuse that injures the brain
  • Any other event that changes the way the brain controls movement

Cerebral palsy has a wide range of symptoms.Cerebral palsy may have a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Tight muscles (spasticity)
  • Weakness in the whole body or in just one part (one side or legs only)
  • Poor muscle control or coordination that may affect:
    • Walking
    • Using the hands or fingers
    • Balance
    • Speech or swallowing
  • Unusual movement patterns
  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Muscle spasms

A doctor can usually tell if a child has cerebral palsy after an exam is done.  A child with CP will have trouble controlling his movements and a brain X-ray (such as an MRI) shows evidence of brain damage. 

There is no cure for cerebral palsy. Treatments are directed at improving function and quality of life. Treatments for CP may include:

  • Therapy programs
  • Bracing, equipment and assistive technology
  • Psychosocial support and services
  • Medical management of spasticity, constipation, and many other concerns
  • Surgical management of musculoskeletal issues or spasticity 

Treatment programs for children with CP are designed to meet their specific needs. Families may find it helpful to have a team of CP specialists involved when deciding about their child’s treatment plan.

To schedule an appointment or evaluation in our Cerebral Palsy Clinic, contact the CP service coordinators at 513-803-GoCP (513-803-4627).

Last Updated 03/2013