What is Cerebral Palsy

For an overview of what CP is, how it affects the body and the different types of CP, read on Cerebral Palsy (CP) describes a broad group of non-progressive disorders of movement and posture due to a defect of, or injury to, the developing brain that has happened either before birth, during birth or in early life.

'Cerebral' refers to the brain.
'Palsy' can mean weakness, or paralysis, or lack of muscle control.

Different parts of the brain control the movement of every muscle in the body. With CP, there is damage to, or lack of development in, one of these areas of the brain.


How Cerebral Palsy Affects the Body

All four limbs are affected, but the legs more so than the arms.

One side of the body is affected

All four limbs are affected. The muscles of the face and mouth may
also be affected.

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Types of Cerebral Palsy

Spastic Cerebral Palsy
The most common type of CP. Spasticity means stiffness, or
tightness of muscles. This is most obvious when the person tries to move

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
Athetosis is the word used for uncontrolled movements. This
lack of control often leads to erratic movements when a person starts to move.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
The least common type of CP. Ataxia is a term used to describe
conditions involving a lack of balance and coordination. It often presents as unsteady, shaky movements described as a tremor.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Many people do not have just one type of cerebral palsy, but a
mixture of the above types.

Although the types of CP are classified separately, a person may have a combination of one or more types. There are a number of additional disabilities that may occur in association with CP - a person with CP may have disorders of hearing, sight or speech. They may also have epilepsy or an intellectual disability.

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