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Cerebral Palsy is a condition that affects muscle control and movement. It's usually caused by an injury to the brain before, during or after birth.
There is no cure. Physiotherapy and other therapies can often help people become more independent.
No two people will be affected in the same way. Treatments and therapies should reflect individual needs.
In the UK, Cerebral Palsy affects about one in every 400 children.
There may be no obvious single reason. The main causes include:
The following factors can increase the likelihood of Cerebral Palsy:
A combination of factors such as low birth weight and being a twin can increase the probability.
There are 3 main types. Many people will have a mixture of these.
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 many different areas of the body.
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.
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 ataxic cerebral palsy can walk but they will be unsteady with shaky movements. Ataxia can also affect speech and language.
Many people will have more than one type of CP.
You may also come across terms such as:
Some people may have associated conditions; while others may not. These can include:
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.
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