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Cerebral palsy facts for kids

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Cerebral palsy
US Navy 081028-N-3173B-027 Cmdr. John King assesses the reflexes of a Cerebral Palsy patient at the Arima District Health Facility as part of the humanitarian-civic assistance mission Continuing Promise (CP) 2008.jpg
A child with cerebral palsy being assessed by a physician
Symptoms Poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles, tremors
Complications Seizures, intellectual disability
Usual onset Early childhood
Duration Lifelong
Causes Often unknown
Risk factors Preterm birth, being a twin, certain infections during pregnancy, difficult delivery
Diagnostic method Based on child's development
Treatment Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, conductive education, external braces, orthopedic surgery
Frequency 2.1 per 1,000

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the name given to a number of motor problems (trouble moving the body). CP is usually caused by damage done to the brain during early childhood. It is called "cerebral palsy" because the part of the brain that is damaged is the cerebrum. CP cannot be cured. It is treated with therapies.

CP was first identified by an English surgeon called William Little in 1860.

There are several types of cerebral palsy. The most common type is spastic cerebral palsy.

Today, 1 in every 400 children in the UK has cerebral palsy.


People with CP often have trouble standing or walking. They may also be partly paralysed.

While the main problem of cerebral palsy is problems with moving, difficulties with having thoughts, learning, feeling, talking and behaviour often come with cerebral palsy.

Of children with cerebral palsy, 3 out of 4 children have pain, 1 out of 2 have intellectual disability, 1 out of 3 children cannot walk, 1 in 3 have a hip displacement, 1 in 4 cannot talk, 1 out of 4 children have epilepsy, 1 in 4 have behaviour disorders, 1 out of 4 children have trouble controlling their bladder, 1 in 5 have trouble with sleep (sleeping too much or not enough), 1 out of 5 children dribble, 1 out of 10 are blind, 1 out of 15 need to be fed through a tube, and 1 in 25 are deaf.

Most people with cerebral palsy live for as long as people without CP. 5-10% of children with CP die before growing up.


Cerebral palsy
Researchers are developing an electrical stimulation device specifically for children with cerebral palsy, who have foot drop, which causes tripping when walking

Over time, the way to take care of cerebral palsy has changed from fixing a person's physical problems such as spasticity in one leg or arm. Now, the way to take care of cerebral palsy is about making therapies for the body part of a larger purpose of making the person's quality of life better, helping them have choice and make their own decisions about looking after themselves, and helping them be part of society. Much of children's therapy is about helping them walk better. Roughly 60% of people with CP are able to walk by themselves or with mobility aids when they become grown up.

Mobility aids may help people with CP move around more easily.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Parálisis cerebral para niños

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