Cerebral Palsy: Symptoms, Causes, and the Road Ahead


Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood. It is the most common motor disability in children, affecting approximately 3 per 1,000 live births, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

It affects muscle tone, coordination, and movement and can also lead to speech and language difficulties, vision and hearing problems, and learning disabilities.

While cerebral palsy is not a progressive disorder, meaning it doesn’t worsen over time, the challenges a person with cerebral palsy faces can evolve throughout their life.

If your child has become a victim of cerebral palsy due to medical malpractice, you should hire a birth injury attorney. They will help you get fair compensation for the challenges you and your child are facing and will face in the future.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

The symptoms of cerebral palsy manifest differently in each individual. Some may experience mild muscle stiffness or weakness, while others might have severe limitations in movement, requiring wheelchairs or other assistive devices.

Here’s a closer look at the common symptoms:

Muscle Stiffness and Tightness

This can make everyday tasks like walking, grasping toys, or even talking a challenge. Sometimes, the muscles will feel a little tense, like a rubber band that’s always slightly pulled tight.

Muscle Weakness

Reduced muscle strength can affect balance, coordination, and the ability to do things that require precision, like picking up small objects or buttoning a shirt.

Uncoordinated Movements

This can make movements jerky or unsteady. It’s often like trying to reach for a toy, and your hand keeps shaking or goes in the wrong direction. It can be frustrating for your child, but there are ways to help them improve their coordination.


Sometimes, involuntary shaking in the limbs or head can occur. This can be mild or more noticeable.

Balance and Coordination Issues

Keeping their balance and coordinating movements might be difficult for your child. This can lead to frequent falls, making them hesitant to try new things.

Speech and Language Difficulties

Problems with muscle control in the face, mouth, and tongue can make speaking challenging. This doesn’t mean your child has a cognitive problem, though.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Here are some probable causes of cerebral palsy:

Brain Damage Before Birth (Prenatal)

Sometimes, things can go wrong during pregnancy that damage the developing brain.


This could be due to infections like rubella or cytomegalovirus (CMV), premature birth (being born too early), complications during pregnancy like reduced blood flow or oxygen deprivation, or even exposure to toxins in the environment.

Difficulties During Birth (Perinatal)

Problems during delivery can also sometimes lead to cerebral palsy. This could include situations where the baby is stuck in the birth canal for too long (prolonged labor), is in a breech position, or experiences a lack of oxygen (birth asphyxia).

Brain Damage After Birth (Postnatal)

While less common, infections like meningitis or encephalitis in the first few years of life can also damage the developing brain and lead to cerebral palsy.

Common Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

Here are some of the treatments available to empower your loved one and help them reach their full potential:

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Physical therapy is the cornerstone of cerebral palsy management. Therapy can help your child improve their movement, coordination, and balance.


Through fun exercises, stretches, and games, physical therapists work on strengthening muscles, increasing flexibility, and developing essential skills like walking, using a wheelchair more effectively, or even maintaining good posture.

Orthotic Devices

Orthotic devices are like supportive companions, helping your loved one with cerebral palsy move and function more independently.

These custom-made braces or splints can be worn on limbs to improve muscle control, support proper joint alignment, and prevent muscle contractures.

Assistive Devices and Technologies

Technology offers a helping hand in managing cerebral palsy. Assistive devices like walkers, wheelchairs, adapted utensils or voice-activated controls, communication devices, or specialized seating systems can provide the necessary support for mobility and independence.


Certain medications can be a valuable tool in managing some of the symptoms associated with CP. For instance, medications can help relax stiff muscles (reduce spasticity), control tremors that might interfere with coordination, or even alleviate pain.