Cerebral palsy – Symptoms and treatments

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What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that disturb muscle movement and muscle posture, is caused due to atypical brain development, usually before birth. Mostly cerebral palsy affects the vision and hearing of a person.  

We can dissect cerebral palsy as two types, the word ‘cerebral’ refers to the brain, and ‘palsy’ refers to weakness or fatigue caused by body movement. Cerebral palsy causes motion disabilities in childhood.

What are the symptoms of cerebral palsy?

 People with cerebral palsy may face trouble in learning and understanding. The symptoms of cerebral palsy may deteriorate over time depending on the type of person.

Palsy can be affected in any part of the cerebrum. In general, signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy include problems with movement, speech and eating, physical development and other problems.

Movement and coordination

Disorders related to muscle stiffness and over reflexes in joints are:

  • Different variations in muscle tones
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Tremors  
  • Slow muscle movements
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty such as buttoning clothes or picking up utensils

Speech and eating problems 

  • Delay in speech development
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Difficulty with sucking, chewing or eating
  • Excessive drooling or swallowing problems


  • Delay such as sitting up or crawling
  • Difficulty in learning
  • Intellectual disability
  • Delayed growth

Types of cerebral palsies 

There are different types of cerebral palsies that affect the brain. Each type causes different movement disorders. The following are some of the types of cerebral palsy.

Spastic cerebral palsy  

Spastic cerebral palsy is the common type of cerebral palsy that affects nearly eighty percent of the total cerebral palsy affected people. This type of palsy causes stiffness in muscles and abnormalities in walking.  

It also leads to muscle weakness and paralysis. The symptoms of this cerebral palsy either affect the entire body or one side of the body.  

Hypotonic cerebral palsy  

Hypotonic cerebral palsy causes overly relaxed muscles. The legs and arms of hypotonic cerebral palsy affect people’s move very easily without stiffness. Babies who are affected by this type of cerebral palsy may face problems in breathing and have very little control of their heads. When they grow up, they may face difficulties in speaking, sitting and sometimes walking too.   

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy  

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy-affected people face difficulty in controlling their body movements. This type of cerebral palsy may lead to abnormal movements in the hands, arms and legs. In rare cases, the tongue and face also get affected.   

Ataxic cerebral palsy  

Ataxic cerebral palsy is a palsy of a very rare type. People who are affected by this cerebral palsy may face balancing problems. They may find it arduous to understand and learn new things.  

Mixed cerebral palsy  

This is a type of cerebral palsy where it shows symptoms related to all types of cerebral palsy. This type of cerebral palsy most often shows symptoms pertaining to spastic and dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

What causes cerebral palsy? 

Abnormal brain development is the primary reason for cerebral palsy. This condition occurs before birth, during birth, or rarely before the first year of birth. In most cases, the original cause of cerebral palsy is undetermined. Some possible causes for cerebral palsy include:

  • Insufficient oxygen to the brain during labour (asphyxia neonatorum)
  • Gene mutations
  • Jaundice during birth
  • Maternal infections such as herpes simplex
  • Brain infections like encephalitis and meningitis
  • Intracranial haemorrhage (Brain bleeding)
  • Head injuries  

What are the complications of cerebral palsy? 


Contracture is shortness of muscle tissue that is caused due to tightening of the muscles. Contracture inhibits bone growth and dislocates bone muscles. Common examples of dislocation are hip dislocation and orthopaedic deformities.


Swallowing can be very difficult for someone with cerebral palsy, which is common in infants. Swallowing problems lead to respiratory disorders such as aspiration pneumonia. Malnutrition diminishes growth and weakens bones.  

Mental health conditions

People who are affected by cerebral palsy also suffer from other mental health conditions like depression, stress, etc.  

Heart and lung disease

People affected by cerebral palsy may also develop disorders related to the heart and lungs.  


Lack of mobility and insufficient nutrition lead to osteoporosis.

How to prevent cerebral palsy? 

Cerebral palsy occurs naturally and cannot be prevented, but one can reduce the chances of getting affected by cerebral palsy.

Suppose, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should follow the measures below to avoid reducing the risk of getting affected by cerebral palsy.

Compulsory vaccination 

Getting vaccinated against diseases such as rubella might prevent an infection that could cause fetal brain damage.

Protect yourself 

Always bear in mind when you are pregnant, be careful in every step you take forward, or else you may develop an infection that results in cerebral palsy.

Seek care early

Regular doctor visits make you feel confident and clear your doubt about pregnancy. Through regular doctor consultations, you can ensure to prevent premature birth and low birth weight problems. Thereby, you can clear doubts about birth weight-related issues.

Say no to alcohol and drugs

Abstain from health deteriorating activities like alcohol, cigarette and drugs. Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage occuring at the onset of childhood.  

As a responsible parent, pay utmost attention to your child by providing them with a seat belt and bicycle helmet while driving and make sure to supervise your child’s activity for their safety.

Treatments for cerebral palsy 

Children and adults suffering from cerebral palsy may need lifelong treatment. The doctor team might include a variety of therapists and mental health specialists. These experts must address the needs and problems that are similar in people with cerebral palsy.  

There is no cure for cerebral palsy. However, many applicable treatment options augment your child’s daily functioning. Early treatment improves your child’s behaviour.

Treatment for cerebral palsy includes medications, assistive aids and surgical procedures.

Assistive aids

Assistive aids for cerebral palsy include:

  • Body braces
  • Wheelchairs
  • Eyeglasses
  • Hearing aids
  • Walking aids


The following are some of the underlying first treatments of cerebral palsy. Your doctor might prescribe the following medications:

  • Diazepam/ Valium
  • Dantrolene
  • Baclofen  
  • Tizanidine  


Temporal surgery is performed for cerebral palsy. This surgery is also known as orthopaedic surgery. This surgery is useful to relieve pain and increase body mobility. Other surgery, such as Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR), can also be used to reduce chronic pain.  

Other treatment

Other general treatments for cerebral palsy include:

  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Counselling or psychotherapy
  • Social services consultations

Summing up

Cerebral palsy can occur either before birth or in early childhood. Even though cerebral palsy is an incurable disease, proper diagnosis and treatment may help people with cerebral palsy lead a normal life.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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