What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy is a condition marked by impaired muscle co-ordination (spastic paralysis) and/ or other disabilities, typically caused by damage to the brain before or at birth.

Cerebral Palsy is caused by an abnormality or disruption in brain development most often before a child is born. In many cases, the cause isn’t known.

Factors that can lead to problems with brain development include:

  • Gene mutation that leads to abnormal development

  • Maternal infections that affect the developing foetus

  • Foetal stroke, a disruption of blood supply to the developing brain

  • Bleeding into the brain in the womb or as a newborn

  • Infant infections that cause inflammation in or around the brain

  • Traumatic head injury to an infant from a motor accident or fall

  • Lack of oxygen to the brain related to difficult labour or delivery, although birth related asphyxia is much less common a cause than historically thought.

Cerebral Palsy Facts

  • Every hour a baby is born with cerebral palsy.

  • It is the most common physical disability in childhood.

  • Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a group of disorders. It is a condition that is permanent, but not unchanging.

  • Cerebral palsy is a life-long physical disability due to damage of the developing brain.

  • In most cases, brain injury leading to cerebral palsy occurs during pregnancy.

  • Cerebral palsy, except in its mildest forms, can be evident in the first 12-18 months.

  • Motor disability can range from minimal to profound, depending on the individual.

  • It can range from weakness in one hand, to an almost complete lack of voluntary movement requiring 24 hour care.

  • Children with cerebral palsy are likely to also have other impairments in addition to their motor disability.

  • Spastic hemiplegia, where one half of the body has difficulty with voluntary movement, is the most common presentation of cerebral palsy. Approximately 40% of people with Cerebral Palsy have hemiplegia.

  • There is no known cure for the condition.