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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is used to describe a medical condition that affects control of the muscles. Cerebral means anything in the head and palsy refers to anything wrong with control of the muscles or joints in the body and therefore CP covers a spectrum of symptoms which vary in severity. An individual with cerebral palsy may have difficulty with fine motor tasks, such as writing, maintaining balance and walking, or be affected by involuntary movements, such as uncontrollable motions of the hands. The symptoms differ from one person to the next, and may even change over time in the individual. Some cerebral palsy sufferers are also affected by other medical disorders, including seizures or mental impairment. There are a number of identifiably types of CP:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy:

Children with spastic CP have stiff and jerky movements caused by muscles which are are too tight (high muscles tone). This causes particular difficulties when moving from one bodily position to another or letting loose an object held in their hand. Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common type of identified. This form of cerebral palsy affects 70 to 80 percent of children who suffer from CP.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy:

Distinguished by poor coordination and loose muscle tone (low muscle tone), children with this particular form of the condition look very unsteady and shaky. They experience extreme shakiness the majority of the time but this can become more pronounced when trying to perform fine movements such as turning the page of a book. Poor balance is also a problem for these children and they may be very unsteady when they walk. The ataxic form affects an estimated 5 to 10 percent of children who have CP.

Athetoid or Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy:

This is a mixture of muscle tone which is too tight or loose. Here the child has trouble holding themselves in an upright, steady position for sitting or walking, and often show lots of movements of their face, arms and upper body which is not intentional. Athetoid cerebral palsy affects about 10 to 20 percent of children with CP.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy:

When muscle tone is too low in some muscles and too high in other muscles, the type of cerebral palsy is called mixed.

Associated Features:

Not Applicable

Differential Diagnosis:

Some disorders have similar symptoms. The clinician, therefore, in his diagnostic attempt, has to differentiate against the following disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise diagnosis.

Mental Retardation


Cerebral Palsy is caused by an injury to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth. In many cases, it is not known for sure what caused the brain injury.


Whilst a child with severe cerebral palsy might be unable to walk and need extensive and lifelong care, a child with mild cerebral palsy might only be slightly awkward and require no special assistance.

Counseling and Psychotherapy [ See Therapy Section ]:

Physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy are all utilized to assist the child in better language and coordination activities.

DSM Code


343.9 Cerebral Palsy

Disorder Sheets

PO Box 833
Milton Keynes
MK12 5NY
Tel: 0808 800 333

Recommended Book

Early Diagnosis and Interventional Therapy in Cerebral Palsy:
An Interdisciplinary Approach - Click Here to View


Cerebral Palsy

Misc Information

Cerebal palsy Chatroom

Cognitive Disorders