What is Cerebral Palsy?


Cerebral palsy (CP) is a broad diagnostic term used to describe a problem with movement and posture that makes certain activities difficult. Although someone who have cerebral palsy have problems moving his or her muscles, this is not because there is something wrong with the muscles or nerves. These difficulties are caused because of problems in the brain. Cerebral palsy can be the result of an injury to the brain during gestation or in the first year of life, or it occur when the brain does not develop properly during gestation. The injured or abnormal brain is unable to optimally control movement and posture.

Simply stated, “cerebral” refers to the brain, and “palsy” refers to muscle weakness and poor control. Although the brain itself will not get worse, people who have cerebral palsy will usually change over time. Sometimes they will get better, and some patients will stay the same. Occasionally they will get worse, usually because of changing muscle tone or development of joint contractures.

There is currently no cure for cerebral palsy; however there are different treatment options for people who have cerebral palsy. These options include therapy, medications, surgery, education and support. By taking advantage of these treatments, people with CP can improve their function, minimize the development of complicating issues and optimize the quality of their lives.

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American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine

National Council on Disability

National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities

Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation