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Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of motor problems and physical
disorders that result from a brain injury or abnormal brain development and
that may occur during fetal growth, at the time of birth, or in the first 2
or 3 years of a child's life. The brain injury that causes CP does not get
worse over time, but symptoms may start, change, or become more severe as a
Cerebral palsy affects the muscles of a part or side
of the body or sometimes the entire body. Uncontrolled reflex movements and
muscle tightness (spasticity) occur with varying severity. Physical problems of
cerebral palsy range from mild (a clumsy walk) to severe (an inability to
control movement of the arms, legs, or muscles of the mouth and tongue). People
with severe forms of cerebral palsy are more likely to have other problems,
such as seizures or intellectual disability.
Sometimes the exact cause
of cerebral palsy is known, such as when brain damage follows a serious
infection or head injury. In many cases the exact cause of cerebral palsy is
Cerebral palsy cannot be cured. But a comprehensive
treatment program can help people with CP maximize their abilities and physical
strength, prevent complications, and improve their quality of life. Treatment
usually includes physical therapy and speech therapy. Medicines, surgery,
special devices and equipment, and other individualized treatments also may be
Current as of:
November 20, 2015
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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