Cerebral palsy is a set of movement difficulties caused by damage to the motor control centers of the brain. The damage to the developing brain can happen during pregnancy, childbirth, or anytime in the young years up to age three. Cerebral palsy may affect fine and gross motor skills, oral motor functioning, communication, cognition, vision, and sensation. It may also cause seizures in some children.
The common early signs of cerebral palsy are:
- Lack of muscle coordination when performing voluntary movements (ataxia)
- Stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity)
- Walking with one foot or leg dragging
- Walking on the toes, a crouched gait, or a “scissored” gait
- Muscle tone that is either too stiff or too floppy
Researchers are still developing theories about the causes of cerebral palsy, but there is evidence that maternal or fetal infections, birth injuries, and lack of oxygen before, during, or immediately after birth are common factors. Prematurity is another risk factor. Early severe illness, physical trauma, and severe dehydration can also injure the motor control centers of the brain.
How can I help my child with cerebral palsy?
There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatment can do a lot to expand a child’s capabilities. Here at CTS, we provide physical, occupational, and speech therapy to children with cerebral palsy. We work with your child to improve communication, fine and gross motor skills, and provide recommendations to adapt her environment to best utilize her existing abilities.
In general, the earlier a child begins treatment the better chance he has of overcoming developmental disabilities or learning new ways to do the things he finds difficult.