Cerebrum (cerebral) is a medical word for the brain. Palsy is a problem moving muscles.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a brain condition that affects the muscles. It makes muscles stiff and hard to move.
CP is caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls muscles. Sometimes other parts of the baby's brain are also damaged.
Some babies are born with brain damage. This damage can be caused by:
Other times a baby's brain is damaged during delivery or right after birth. The damage is sometimes caused by:
Infants who are born early (premature) and who have a low birth weight are more likely to have brain damage that can cause cerebral palsy.
Children may have:
These problems can range from mild to very severe. Children with mild problems may just seem clumsy. Children with severe problems may not be able to walk or even swallow food.
Children who have damage to other parts of their brain may also have problems with hearing, learning, or behavior.
Doctors may think your child has CP if your child is:
The doctor usually does an MRI of your child’s brain to check for certain brain abnormalities. An MRI is a scan showing detailed pictures. However, there is no test that tells for sure whether your child has CP.
There's no cure for CP. However, your doctor and therapist can do many things to help your child move around better, including:
Arm or leg braces to help with muscle control and walking
Physical therapy to help strengthen and loosen muscles
Occupational therapy to learn how to do daily activities, such as brushing teeth, using a fork, or combing hair
Speech therapy to help make speech clearer and to learn how to swallow more easily
Medicines to help muscles relax
Your child may take medicines by mouth to help muscles relax. Sometimes, doctors inject Botox® into a child's muscles to make them relax. If a muscle is so stiff that it keeps your child from moving an arm or leg at all, doctors may do surgery. In the surgery, doctors cut or lengthen the tendon that attaches the stiff muscle to the bone.