Cerebral palsy is a form of injury that sometimes occurs due to birth trauma. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has information and resources for parents who want to know more about cerebral palsy.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a type of neurological disorder that happens in babies and early childhood. It affects that child's body movement and muscle coordination. Cerebral palsy is caused by problems in the parts of the brain that direct muscle movement.
Most children who have cerebral palsy were born with it. The signs should occur before the child reaches 3 years of age.
The symptoms include:
- lack of muscle coordination
- stiff or tight muscles
- exaggerated reflexes
- walking while dragging one foot
- walking on the toes
- a crouched walk
- floppy or stiff muscle tone
- possible brain damage in the first months or years of life
- brain infections like bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis
- head injury from a car accident, fall, or child abuse
How is cerebral palsy treated?
There is no cure for cerebral palsy. Various treatment methods can help the child to overcome some developmental disabilities. Many children with cerebral palsy can live an almost normal adult life is the parents learn to help the child manage the disabilities.
Treatment may include:
- physical therapy
- occupational therapy
- speech therapy
- drugs to manage seizures
- drugs to help muscle spasms to relax
- drugs to manage pain
- surgery to correct anatomical abnormalities or release tight muscles
- braces and orthotic devices
- wheelchairs and rolling walkers
- communication aids such as computers with attached voice synthesizers
Where can parents get more information on cerebral palsy?
United Cerebral Palsy (UCP)
1660 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: 202-776-0406 800-USA-5UCP (872-5827)
Pathways Awareness Foundation [For Children With Movement Difficulties]
150 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60601
Tel: 312-893-6620 800-955-CHILD (2445)
March of Dimes Foundation
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: 914-428-7100 888-MODIMES (663-4637)
233 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606
Tel: 312-726-6200 800-221-6827
Children's Neurobiological Solutions (CNS) Foundation
1726 Franceschi Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Tel: 866-CNS-5580 (267-5580) 805-898-4442
Children's Hemiplegia and Stroke Assocn. (CHASA)
4101 West Green Oaks Blvd., Ste. 305
Arlington, TX 76016
Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation
1025 Connecticut Avenue
Washington, DC 20036
Pedal with Pete [For Research on Cerebral Palsy]
P.O. Box 274
Kent, OH 44240
Tel: 800-304-PETE (7383)