Cerebral palsy

group of permanent movement disorders that appear in early childhood

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.[1]



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.[2]

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.[3]

Most people with cerebral palsy live for as long as people without CP.[4] 5-10% of children with CP die before growing up.[5]



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.[6]: 886  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.[7]

Mobility aids may help people with CP move around more easily.[8]


  1. "Cerebral palsy". nhs.uk. 20 October 2017.
  2. Rosenbaum, P; Paneth, N; Leviton, A; Goldstein, M; Bax, M; Damiano, D; Dan, B; Jacobsson, B (2007). "A report: The definition and classification of cerebral palsy April 2006". Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology Supplement. 109: 8–14. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8749.2007.tb12610.x. PMID 17370477. S2CID 24504486.; Fixed in Rosenbaum, P; Paneth, N; Leviton, A; Goldstein, M; Bax, M; Damiano, D; Dan, B; Jacobsson, B (2007). "A report: The definition and classification of cerebral palsy April 2006". Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. 49: 480. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8749.2007.00480.x. S2CID 221647898.
  3. Novak, I.; Hines, M.; Goldsmith, S.; Barclay, R. (8 October 2012). "Clinical Prognostic Messages From a Systematic Review on Cerebral Palsy". Pediatrics. 130 (5): e1285–e1312. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-0924. PMID 23045562. S2CID 647449.
  4. Strauss, David; Brooks, Jordan; Rosenbloom, Lewis; Shavelle, Robert (2008). "Life expectancy in cerebral palsy: An update". Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. 50 (7): 487–493. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8749.2008.03000.x. PMID 18611196. S2CID 18315945.
  5. Trabacca, Antonio; Vespino, Teresa; Di Liddo, Antonella; Russo, Luigi (September 2016). "Multidisciplinary rehabilitation for patients with cerebral palsy: improving long-term care". Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare. 9: 455–462. doi:10.2147/JMDH.S88782. PMC 5036581. PMID 27703369.
  6. Novak, Iona; Mcintyre, Sarah; Morgan, Catherine; Campbell, Lanie; Dark, Leigha; Morton, Natalie; Stumbles, Elise; Wilson, Salli-Ann; Goldsmith, Shona (October 2013). "A systematic review of interventions for children with cerebral palsy: state of the evidence". Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology. 55 (10): 885–910. doi:10.1111/dmcn.12246. PMID 23962350. S2CID 1658072.
  7. McGinley, Jennifer L.; Pogrebnoy, Dina; Morgan, Prue (2014). "Mobility in Ambulant Adults with Cerebral Palsy — Challenges for the Future". In Švraka, Emira (ed.). Cerebral Palsy - Challenges for the Future. doi:10.5772/58344. ISBN 978-953-51-1234-1. S2CID 19351338.  
  8. "Assistive Technology, Mobility and Customised Seating | Cerebral Palsy Alliance". www.cerebralpalsy.org.au. Cerebral Palsy Alliance. Archived from the original on 5 February 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2017.