How to Recognize Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect someone's ability to move and command the way in which they hold or carry themselves. Movements may be awkward or uncontrollable. In some cases, speech, vision, and hearing may be affected as well. Early detection in a child is imperative to their living a healthier life and coping with CP. The following will help you recognize CP symptoms.


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    Look for the signs and symptoms of CP:
    • Children over two months of age:
      • May have stiff legs that cross when picked up.
      • Problems controlling their head when picked up.
    • Children over 6 months old:
      #**May still have difficulty controlling their head when picked up.
      • Will reach out with one hand keeping the other hand balled into a fist.
    • Children over ten months:
      #**Crawl by shoving off with one hand and leg and dragging the other hand and leg.
      • May not be able to remain sitting up unassisted.
    • Child over one year of age:
      #**Does not crawl.
      • May have trouble standing even with support.
    • Children over two years old:
      #**May not be able to walk.
      • May have trouble pushing a toy with wheels.
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    Seek the advice of a pediatrician if you suspect your child may have CP.
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    Be aware that people can have more than one type of CP at the same time. The most common combination is spastic (stiff muscle tone) plus athetoid (slow, contorting movements).
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    Understand that CP symptoms differ from one person to another. The symptoms can even change over time.


  • Other causes of CP can occur later in the pregnancy, during delivery, or within the first few years of the child's life. These include:
    **Bleeding in the brain.
  • Someone with severe CP might not be able to walk and might need care all their lives. A person with mild CP might walk with some difficulty, but they may not require special help.
  • CP is caused by brain damage. In children born with CP, the child's brain development during the first 6 months of pregnancy may have been disrupted. Problems with the supply of blood to the brain and genetic conditions are known causes of this disruption.
  • Look for "toe" walking in an older child. Children with Cerebral Palsy may walk on their tip toes rather than feet down.
  • Look for clumsiness. Some older children with Cerebral Palsy may seem clumsy and not meet development milestones similar to their peers.
  • Cerebral Palsy is a lifelong condition that does not change in severity in medical condition. Most children can be helped through physical and occupational therapy. If you suspect Cerebral Palsy in your child seek medical help. Also, call your school district and request early intervention. Children who receive therapy at an early stage have a better outlook for the rest of their lives.


  • Children born prematurely or who are very low birth weight are more apt to have difficulties that could lead to CP.
  • Cerebral palsy cannot be cured.

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Categories: Disability Issues | Raising Children with Special Needs