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Cerebral Palsy Overview

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Cerebral palsy is condition, sometimes thought of as a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking. Ther are several different types of cerebral palsy, including spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, hypotonic, and mixed.

Cerebral palsy is caused by injuries or abnormalities of the brain. Most of these problems occur as the baby grows in the womb, but they can happen at any time during the first 2 years of life, while the baby’s brain is still developing.

In some people with cerebral palsy, parts of the brain are injured due to low levels of oxygen (hypoxia) in the area. It is not known why this occurs.

Premature infants have a slightly higher risk of developing cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy may also occur during early infancy as a result of several conditions, including:

  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Brain infections (encephalitis, meningitis, herpes simplex infections)
  • Head injury
  • Infections in the mother during pregnancy (rubella)
  • Severe jaundice

In some cases the cause of cerebral palsy is never determined.

Read more about the causes of cerebral palsy.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy can be very different between people with this group of disorders. Symptoms may:

  • Be very mild or very severe
  • Only involve one side of the body or both sides
  • Be more pronounced in either the arms or legs, or involve both the arms and legs

There are several different types of cerebral palsy therefore, some people have a mixture of symptoms. Read more about the symptoms of cerebral palsy.

If your child is suspected to have cerebral palsy, he or she will need to undergo a series of tests in order to diagnose and find out other possible causes. They can include brain test, electroencephalogram, lab tests and some additional tests.

Read more about the diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

There is no cure for cerebral palsy. The goal of treatment is to help the person be as independent as possible. Treatment may require a team approach combined with self and home care and medicine. In some case, surgery is needed.

Read more about the treatment of cerebral palsy.

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