Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. CP is the most common motor disability in childhood. “Cerebral” means having to do with the brain. “Palsy” means weakness or problems with using the muscles. CP is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles.
The symptoms of CP vary from person to person. A person with severe CP might need to use special equipment to be able to walk, or might not be able to walk at all and might need lifelong care. A person with mild CP, on the other hand, might walk a little awkwardly, but might not need any special help. CP does not get worse over time, though the exact symptoms can change over a person’s lifetime.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is caused by abnormal development of the brain or damage to the developing brain that affects a child’s ability to control his or her muscles. When discussing with parents the cause of CP in their newborn, a doctor might use words like hypoxia, anoxia, HIE (hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy), or perinatal asphyxiation. All of these words and phrases indicate insufficient supply of, or a complete lack of, oxygen to the baby’s brain during labor and or delivery. There are several possible causes of the abnormal development or damage; including:
- Very premature birth;
- Failure to perform a C-section in a timely manner or provide adequate oxygen;
- Prescription drugs administered during pregnancy; and
- Head trauma resulting in bleeding in the brain after delivery, usually due to head trauma.