Cerebral palsy is a disorder of muscle control which results from some damage to part of the brain. The term cerebral palsy is used when the problem has occurred to the developing brain either before birth, around birth or in early life .
Children can have problems such as weakness, stiffness, awkwardness, slowness, shakiness and difficulty with balance. These problems can range from mild to severe. In mild cerebral palsy, the child may be slightly clumsy in one arm or leg, and the problem may be barely noticeable. In severe cerebral palsy, the child may have a lot of difficulties, with the whole body affected.
There are several different types of cerebral palsy.
This is the most common type of cerebral palsy. Spasticity means stiffness or tightness of muscles. The muscles are stiff because the message to the muscles is relayed incorrectly through the damaged part of the brain. When people without cerebral palsy perform a movement, some groups of muscles become tighter and some groups of muscles relax. In children with spastic cerebral palsy, both groups of muscles may become tighter. This makes the movement difficult.
Athetosis is the word used for the uncontrolled movements that occur in this type of cerebral palsy. This lack of control is often most noticeable when the child starts to make a movement. In addition, children with athetoid cerebral palsy often have very weak muscles or feel floppy when carried.
This is the least common type of cerebral palsy. Ataxia is the word used for unsteady shaky movements or tremor. Children with ataxia also have problems with balance.
Many children do not have just one type, but a mixture of several of these movement patterns.
There are many different causes.
Damage to the brain can occur:
It is important to note that, despite a careful review and various tests, the cause of the cerebral palsy often remains unknown.