What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is best defined as a disorder of movement, posture, or muscle tone. It is caused by the damage that can occur in an immature, developing brain. This condition most often occurs before birth. Symptoms and signs of cerebral palsy will normally occur during a child’s infancy or preschool years. The signs of cerebral palsy will be an impaired movement that is associated with abnormal reflexes. It will also often show up as abnormal posture, rigidity or floppiness of the trunk and limbs, unsteady walking, involuntary movements, or a combination of any of these conditions.

People who suffer from cerebral palsy may also experience eye muscle imbalance or have problems swallowing. The eye muscle imbalance will cause the eyes not to focus on the same object. There may also be a reduced range of motion in various parts of their body which is primarily due to muscle stiffness. Each person who suffers from cerebral palsy will have various degrees of functional abilities. Some who suffer from this debilitating disease may be able to walk while others cannot. Also, there will be different degrees of intellectual capacity. Deafness, blindness, or epilepsy can also be present.

The symptoms and signs can vary greatly with anyone who has cerebral palsy. Some of the coordination and movement problems that are associated with this disease may include exaggerated reflexes, stiff muscles, variations of muscle tone, or lack of muscle coordination. Other symptoms can include involuntary movements, excessive drooling, seizures, problems with swallowing, difficulty with eating or sucking, delays or difficulties with speaking or speech development, and favoring one side of the body over the other side.

The disability that is associated with cerebral palsy may be restricted to only one side of the body or primarily to a specific limb. It can also affect the entire body. The brain disorder that causes cerebral palsy will not change over time which means that the symptoms will normally not get worse with age. However, muscle rigidity and shortening could worsen if not treated aggressively.

Some brain abnormalities can also contribute to various neurological problems. Cerebral palsy victims may also have seizures, oral diseases, intellectual disabilities, difficulty with hearing and vision, urinary incontinence, abnormal pain or touch perceptions, or psychiatric mental health conditions. If you perceive that your child has any of the above symptoms then it is important to get a prompt diagnosis from your family doctor. Not doing so could delay or hinder your child’s future development.