Fact Sheet: Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is the name given to a group of permanent, usually non-progressive disorders marked by loss or impairment of control over voluntary muscles. It results from damage to the developing brain that may occur before, during, or after birth, up to 5 years of age. Cerebral palsy is not a disease and should not be referred to as such. Forms of cerebral palsy include:
- Spastic: muscles over-contract when stretched, resulting in stiff, jerky motions; joints are sometimes fixed in abnormal positions
- Athetoid: constant movement of muscles; difficulties with speech because of slurred speech and poor hearing
- Ataxic: Inability to maintain balance or coordination; individuals may have to be protected from falling or have to wear a protective helmet
Other types do occur, although infrequently. Any one individual may have a combination of these types. Cerebral palsy is often, but not always, associated with a number of other complications which may include:
- Speech, hearing and vision problems
- Perceptual problems, which often interfere with learning
- Approximately one-third of people with cerebral palsy also have mental retardation
United Cerebral Palsy Associations, Inc.
UCP has many state chapters and affiliated organizations.