Treatments and therapies should reflect individual needs, as CP affects people in different ways.
Factors increasing the chances of CP
The following factors can increase the likelihood of Cerebral Palsy:
Difficult or premature birth
Twins or multiple birth
Mother’s age being below 20 or over 40
Father under 20 years
First child or fifth (or more) child
Baby of low birth weight (less than 2.5 pounds)
Premature birth (less than 37 weeks)
A combination of factors such as low birth weight and being a twin can increase the probability.
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are 3 main types. Many people will have a mixture of these.
The Gross Motor Function Classification System shows how someone's CP might affect them. To see this, download CanChild's PDF.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spasticity means the muscle tone is tight and stiff. This reduces a person's range of movement. As the muscle tone is so tight, spasticity can be very painful with muscles often going into spasm. It can affect different areas of the body.
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
Sometimes called dystonic, athetoid or choreoathetoid cerebral palsy. Dyskinetic CP causes uncontrolled, involuntary, sustained or intermittent muscle contractions. It may be difficult to maintain an upright position. The person may find it difficult to control the tongue, vocal chords and breathing. This may affect speech and language.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxia is defined as an inability to activate the correct pattern of muscles during movement. This affects balance and spatial awareness. It can make it difficult to judge your body position in relation to things around you. Ataxia can affect the whole body. Most people with ataxia can walk but they will be unsteady with shaky movements. Ataxia can also affect speech and language.
Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Many people will have a mix of types.
You may also come across terms such as:
hemiplegia (1 side of the body affected)
diplegia (2 limbs affected)
monoplegia (1 limb affected)
quadriplegia (4 limbs affected)
Cerebral Palsy: associated conditions
Some people may have associated conditions; while others may not. These can include:
learning difficulty, as children with CP cover the same range of intelligence as other children
epilepsy, which affects up to a third of children with CP
In general, people with CP will have the same life expectancy as anyone else. Cerebral Palsy itself is not progressive; the injury to the brain does not change. The effects may change over time for better or worse. Read more about ageing.