Cerebral Palsy or CP

What is it?

An umbrella term encompassing a group of non-progressive, non-contagious disorders that affect the parts of the brain that control the motor (movement) system.


Injury to the brain may occur prenatally, (e.g. infection in mother or extreme prematurity) during birth (lack of oxygen to the brain during the birth process) or shortly following birth (e.g. brain infection, meningitis) the injury must have occurred before the age of 2.


2 in every 1000 births. (In the US)

Common Physical Traits

Changes in muscle tone, increased or decreased or both; spasticity ("stiffness of joints") and they may have unusual movements that they are unable to control voluntarily. CP may affect 1 limb, one side of the body or all 4 limbs.


Conditions that may accompany or occur at the same time as CP include, visual impairment, challenges with communication (speech maybe difficult to understand), feeding disorders – leading to problems with growth and nutrition, seizures (epilepsy), learning disabilities or intellectual disabilities.

Note Worthy

Some persons with CP may have average or above average IQ and be able to do well at school and get a "good job" but may need certain accommodations for their physical challenges.

How its diagnosed

  • Clinical Earliest signs – delay in motor skills development. Often several medical evaluations are carried out in order to determine cause and to assess severity.


May not need all types of therapy through out life:

  • Speech Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)
  • Physical Therapy or Physiotherapy (PT)
  • Special Education – Some are able to attend a regular or mainstream school and some cases even finish tertiary education.
  • Specialised Medical Care /Treatments e.g. for seizures, spasticity.

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