Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of neurologic (brain) disorders that affect the way the brain communicates with muscles. This can lead to lifelong challenges with movement, strength, and balance. CP is typically characterized by muscle tightness, also known as spasticity. It is most often diagnosed at a very early age and occurs in about three out of every 1,000 babies born.
There are three different types of CP:
- Spastic cerebral palsy: This is the most common type of CP involving spasticity, or resistance when trying to move an arm or leg.
- Dystonic (or athetoid) cerebral palsy: Dystonic movements are uncontrolled, purposeless, and often rigid in nature that can occur in the arms, legs, or back.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy: Ataxia is difficulty with coordination of movement and can affect any part of the body. It may appear as if the child is clumsy or always off balance.
Causes & Symptoms
The specific cause of cerebral palsy is often unknown. It occurs when there is abnormal development or damage to areas of the brain that control movement. These issues usually develop when the baby is still in the womb but can happen at any time during birth or the first few years of life.