Term: Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a term used to describe different types of chronic palsies. Palsies are disorder that may limit a person’s control over their own movement due to a certain type of brain damage. The three different types of CP include
  1. 1. Spastic Cerebral Palsy
  2. 2. Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
  3. 3. Ataxic Cerebral Palsy


Cerebral Palsy is caused by injuries or abnormalities of the brain. Many of the brain problems may start to form while the child is still growing in the womb. This is not always the case though, problems may occur within the first two years of brain development. Prematurely born infants are at a higher risk of developing these issues. In some cases, the cause of cerebral palsy cannot be determined, but cerebral palsy can occur as a result of:

  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Brain infections (encephalitis, meningitis, herpes simplex infections)
  • Head injury
  • Infections in the mother during pregnancy (rubella)
  • Severe jaundice


Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool years. People with cerebral palsy may have difficulty with swallowing and commonly have muscle imbalance. People cerebral palsy may have reduced range of motion at various joints of their bodies due to stiffness.

Symptoms of spastic cerebral palsy (the most common type) include:

  • Muscles that are very tight and do not stretch. They may tighten up even more over time.
  • Abnormal walk (gait): arms tucked in toward the sides, knees crossed or touching, legs make "scissors" movements, walk on the toes
  • Joints are tight and do not open up all the way (called joint contracture)
  • Muscle weakness or loss of movement in a group of muscles (paralysis)
  • The symptoms may affect one arm or leg, one side of the body, both legs, or both arms and legs

Symptoms of athetoid cerebral palsy

  • Involuntary Movements
  • Inability to maintain posture
  • Trouble eating
  • Hearing loss
  • Squinting or other involuntary eye movements

Symptoms of Ataxic cerebral palsy (least common)

  • Walking with feet spread apart abnormally
  • Low muscle tone
  • Difficulty with maintaining balance
  • Learning disability
  • Speech impediment
  • Experience intention tremors

The following symptoms may occur in other types of cerebral palsy:

  • Abnormal movements (twisting, jerking, or writhing) of the hands, feet, arms, or legs while awake, which gets worse during periods of stress
  • Tremors
  • Unsteady gait
  • Loss of coordination
  • Floppy muscles, especially at rest, and joints that move around too much

Other brain and nervous system symptoms:

  • Decreased intelligence or learning disabilities are common, but intelligence can be normal
  • Speech problems (dysarthria)
  • Hearing or vision problems
  • Seizures
  • Pain, especially in adults (can be difficult to manage)
Eating and digestive symptoms

  • Difficulty sucking or feeding in infants, or chewing and swallowing in older children and adults
  • Problems swallowing (at all ages)
  • Vomiting or constipation
Other symptoms:

  • Increased drooling
  • Slower than normal growth
  • Irregular Breathing


Web MD

Cerebral Palsy

Medicine E Net

PubMed Health


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