Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that permanently affects movement. Cerebral palsy appears in early childhood or infancy and occurs in about 2.1 of every 1,000 children. While there is no way to fully prevent or cure CP, the condition can be managed in a way that maximizes independence and quality of life for affected individuals.
Take the Next Step
The key next step for parents is finding the best care for your child. Our multidisciplinary team includes a range of specialists to help with even the most complex mobility challenges.
What Is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal development in the part of the brain that controls muscle movement and coordination. There are three types of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic cerebral palsy causes muscle stiffness and movement difficulty
- Athetoid cerebral palsy causes involuntary movements
- Ataxic cerebral palsy leads to problems with balance and depth perception
In Motion: 5K Prep
Meet up at the front entrance of Dell Children’s Medical Center, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Ages 5 and up are welcome. Guardian must be present on site and is encouraged to participate in 5K prep. Training prep is FREE, plus attend 3 training sessions and receive an exclusive 5K t-shirt. Activity recommended for GMFCS Level I-III. For questions or to sign up, email Hugo A. Villegas Jr. or call 512-324-0000 x88593.
Cerebral Palsy Causes
Most commonly, cerebral palsy develops in the fetus, but the condition can also develop during infancy or early childhood. The causes of CP are not always identifiable, but many cases can be linked to infection or exposure to radiation during pregnancy, fetal growth restriction or complications during labor. Birth asphyxia, seizures, respiratory problems and low blood sugar during or immediately after birth can also lead to CP.
In very young children, cerebral palsy can be caused by lead poisoning, stroke, near drowning, encephalitis, meningitis, shaken baby syndrome or jaundice. Rarely, cases of CP are genetic.
Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis
Cerebral palsy is usually initially diagnosed by a physical exam assessing general movements, especially in children 4 months of age or younger. Neuroimaging tests such as a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to determine the cause of CP, but are usually not necessary for a diagnosis.
Cerebral Palsy Treatment
Treatment of cerebral palsy focuses on maximizing independence for each individual with the disorder. Treatment of CP is a lifelong process that can include medication, therapy, surgery or a combination.
Therapy can begin as soon as CP is diagnosed and may include physical therapy, speech therapy and therapy for social and emotional development. Medications can help improve muscle stiffness or pain, while braces can assist with walking and other movements. In some cases, orthopedic surgery can repair dislocated hips or abnormal spine curvature such as scoliosis.
By focusing on a long-term vision of independence and quality of life from infancy through adulthood, our team of specialists can help infants, children and adolescents with cerebral palsy enjoy activities and hobbies that promote empowerment and enjoyment with as few limitations as possible.
- CPATH – Central Texas support group for families & individuals living with cerebral palsy
- Cerebral Palsy Research Registry
- American Academy for Cerebral Palsy & Developmental Medicine
- CP Daily Living
- United Cerebral Palsy Resource Guide
- The Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation (CPIRF)
- Let’s Cure CP