Cerebral palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that can have a significant impact on a person's life. It affects the posture, balance, and ability to move, communicate, eat, sleep, and learn. The severity of the condition and the combination of symptoms can vary from person to person. Despite this, most people with cerebral palsy live to late adulthood.
The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy can range from mild to severe. It can affect the entire body or be limited to one or two limbs or one side of the body. Common symptoms include problems with movement and coordination, speaking and eating, development, and other issues. Seizures are not caused by the same brain injury that causes cerebral palsy but can occur in some people with the condition.
It is often difficult to diagnose cerebral palsy in newborns and it may take months or years before doctors can accurately assess the level and extent of disability a child will experience. People with cerebral palsy may experience uncontrolled or unpredictable movements, muscle stiffness, weakness, or tension, and in some cases, shaky movements or tremors. Dysphagia (difficulty chewing and swallowing food and drink) is also common in people with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy can also affect a person's ability to speak due to problems coordinating the muscles around the mouth and tongue.
Intellectual capacity has a strong relationship with life expectancy in children with cerebral palsy. Most cases are congenital (present at birth), although it may not be detected until later in life. Acquired cerebral palsy is less common but can be caused by brain damage early in life, brain infections, problems with blood flow to the brain, or head injuries. Parents should provide information about their child's seizures when meeting with doctors, such as how long they usually last, what parts of the body are affected, the type of seizure, possible triggers, and how the child behaved during the seizure. A small number of people have acquired cerebral palsy which begins after birth.
The severity of the condition can range from mild to severe and may require special equipment or lifelong care.