Cerebral Palsy

Children With Developmental Challenges 3(2+1)

Lesson 8 : Physical Disabilities- Neuromotor Impairment

Cerebral Palsy

It is a group of conditions, usually originating in childhood, characterized by paralysis, weakness, in-coordination or any other aberration of motor function caused by pathology of the motor control center of the brain. Individuals with cerebral palsy have abnormal involuntary uncoordinated motor movements.

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a permanent physical condition that affects movement. Its effect can be as mild as just a weakness in one hand ranging to almost complete lack of movement. Cerebral palsy may be congenital or acquired after birth. Congenital causes include brain injury or malformation due to:


Causes: Cerebral palsy occurs due to damage to areas of the brain that direct movement interferes with the brain's ability to control movement and posture. Cerebral palsy may develop before, during or after birth.

  • Brain tissue may not develop correctly during pregnancy. The growing fetus may experience a lack of oxygen or nutrients.
  • Child sustains a head injury or brain infection.
  • Mother's and child's blood types are not compatible.
  • Mother has rubella while pregnant.
  • Stroke or bleeding occurs in the baby's brain during development or after birth.
  • Child is deprived of oxygen during or after birth.
  • There are abnormalities of the umbilical cord or placenta, or the placenta separates too early from the wall of the uterus.
  • Child has meningitis, encephalitis, seizures, or head injury.
  • Child has genetic/metabolic abnormalities.

Despite common misconceptions, cerebral palsy is caused by problems surrounding the delivery of the infant less than 1% of the time.

Risk factors for cerebral palsy include:

  • Infection or blood clotting problems during pregnancy
  • Vaginal bleeding during pregnancy
  • Seizures or intellectual disability in the expectant mother
  • Complicated or premature delivery
  • Breech birth
  • Low Apgar score (a rating of the child's condition just after birth)
  • Low birth weight
  • Large birth weight
  • Type 1 diabetes in the expectant mother
  • Premature birth
  • Multiple births (eg, twins or triplets)
  • Small head
  • Seizures
  • In vitro fertilization (in part due to multiple births associated with in vitro fertilization)


Symptoms of cerebral palsy vary widely and may include difficulty with fine motor tasks (such as writing or using scissors), difficulty maintaining balance or walking, and involuntary movements. The symptoms differ from person-to-person and may change over time.

Symptoms include:

  • Late to turn over, sit up, smile, or walk
  • Trouble writing, buttoning a button, or other fine motor activities
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Tight, spastic muscles
  • Weak muscles
  • Poor balance
  • Speech problems
  • Tremors
  • Unintentional body movements
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drooling
Last modified: Monday, 9 April 2012, 8:31 AM