What is Cerebral Palsy?

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects muscle control and movement. It is usually caused by an injury to the brain before, during or after birth.

Children with cerebral palsy have difficulties in controlling muscles and movements as they grow and develop.

In the UK, cerebral palsy affects about one in every 400 children (2 – 2.5 per 1,000 live births – (3). Cerebral palsy can affect people from all social backgrounds and ethnic groups.

Cerebra Palsy Overview 2


Does cerebral palsy change?

Cerebral palsy itself is not progressive; the injury to the brain does not change. However, the effects may change over time for better or worse.

Is there a cure for cerebral palsy?

There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but physiotherapy and other therapies can often help people with cerebral palsy become more independent.

No two people will be affected by their cerebral palsy in the same way, and it is important to ensure treatments and therapies are tailored to a child’s individual needs.

What causes cerebral palsy?

The main causes of cerebral palsy include:

  • Infection in the early part of pregnancy
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Abnormal brain development
  • A genetic link (though this is quite rare)

What can increase the chances of cerebral palsy?

The following factors can increase the likelihood of cerebral palsy:

  • Difficult or premature birth
  • Twins or multiple birth
  • Mother’s age being below 20 or over 40
  • Father under 20 years
  • First child or fifth (or more) child
  • Baby of low birth weight (less than 2.5 pounds)
  • Premature birth (less than 37 weeks)

A combination of the above (such as low birth weight and being a twin) can further increase the probability of cerebral palsy.


Types of cerebral palsy

There are three main types of cerebral palsy. Many people with cerebral palsy will have a mixture of these types.

  • Spastic cerebral palsy
  • Dyskinetic cerebral palsy
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy

No two people with cerebral palsy are affected in the same way. Some have cerebral palsy so mildly that it’s barely noticeable. Others may be profoundly affected and require help with many or all aspects of daily life.

Cerebral palsy: associated conditions

Some people with cerebral palsy may have associated conditions; while others may not. These can include:


Cerebral Palsy Sport provides sports opportunities for people with cerebral palsy, individuals with neurological impairment with a motor control impairment of a cerebral nature causing a permanent and verifiable Activity Limitation.

The scope of our work covers people with:

  •  hypertonia (high muscle tone);
  • Spasticity (velocity-dependent resistance of a muscle to stretch);
  • Dystonia (Dystonia is an involuntary alteration in the pattern of muscle activation during voluntary movement or maintenance of posture Sustained or intermittent Muscle contractions.
  • Rigidity: (Rigidity is resistance to Passive movement and is independent of posture and speed of movement. rigidity is not specific to particular tasks or postures.)
  • Ataxia ( Control of movement)
  • Athetosis/Chorea ( Involuntary contractions of muscles )

These impairment types are associated with a range of conditions including, but not limited to, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, Friedreich’s Ataxia, Spino-cerebellar Ataxia, Hereditary Spastic Diplegia/Paraplegia, and Dystonia.