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Pediatric Cerebral Palsy



Cerebral palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is usually caused by damage to the brain before birth.

Expanded overview

Cerebral palsy results from damage to the immature, developing brain, usually before birth. People with this condition have trouble controlling movements and muscles. The signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy usually appear during infancy* (birth to 1 one year) or preschool years** (age 2 to 5).

People with this condition exhibit a wide range of function in everyday life. Some people with cerebral palsy can walk, while others cannot. Others have normal mental function, while some have intellectual disabilities.


Children with cerebral palsy may experience movement and coordination problems, as well as other neurological problems. 

Movement and coordination problems:

  • Delays in reaching motor skills milestones
  • Difficulty swallowing, sucking or eating
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty with fine motor movements, such as picking up a pencil or spoon
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lack of muscle coordination (ataxia)
  • Seizures 
  • Slow, writhing movements (athetosis)
  • Speech delays
  • Tremors or other involuntary movements
  • Using mostly one side of the body
  • Variation in muscle tone, including being too stiff or too floppy

Other neurological problems:

  • Difficulty seeing or hearing
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Mental health conditions
  • Oral diseases
  • Urinary incontinence 


There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but supportive treatments, such as physical therapy, speech- language therapy, and special education services, in addition to medication, and surgery can help improve symptoms for many people with CP.


More information is available through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

*Age of infants as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
**Age of preschool years as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

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