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What is Cerebral Palsy? Symptoms & Risk Factors

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Spastic paralysis is a typical neurological malady. It affects a person’s ability to control their muscles and movements. Damage or abnormalities in the developing brain usually cause such illness. It often occurs before or during birth. What is cerebral palsy remains a crucial question for many. Understanding this condition is vital for early diagnosis and effective management. Individuals with CP may experience a range of manifestations. They include difficulties with motor skills, muscle coordination, and posture. These challenges can manifest as stiffness, involuntary movements, and impaired balance. 

While the severity of signs varies, spastic paralysis can impact a person’s daily life and independence. Several risk factors contribute to the development of such neurological disorders. Among them are premature birth, low birth weight, and infections during pregnancy. Early identification of manifestations and addressing risk factors are essential. This helps you provide appropriate interventions and support to improve your quality of life. 


Definition of Cerebral Palsy

It is a complex neurological condition that primarily affects movement and posture. The definition of cerebral palsy encompasses a group of disorders caused by damage to the developing brain. It is precisely in areas responsible for motor control. This damage can occur during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly after birth. It is leading to a wide range of motor impairments. Individuals with cerebral palsy may exhibit varying degrees of motor dysfunction. They include muscle stiffness, involuntary movements, and challenges with coordination. The extent and nature of these signs vary widely from person to person, making each case unique. CP is a lifelong condition. 

Early intervention and comprehensive care are necessary. They can improve an individual’s functional abilities and quality of life. Comprehending the critical aspects of the definition of cerebral palsy is crucial. It is vital for healthcare professionals, caregivers, and individuals affected by the condition. This knowledge forms the foundation for tailored interventions, therapies, and support systems. They aim to maximize independence and promote well-being for those with cerebral palsy.


How Common is Cerebral Palsy?

CP is a relatively prevalent neurological disorder, with incidence rates varying globally. The critical question of how common cerebral palsy is prompts an exploration of statistical insights:

  • Global Occurrence: Spastic diplegia affects approximately 2 to 3 children per 1,000 live births worldwide. This makes it a significant health concern on an international scale.
  • Regional Disparities: Incidence rates can differ between regions. They are with some areas reporting higher prevalence. Access to healthcare, socioeconomic conditions, and maternal health contribute to these disparities.
  • Risk Factors Influence: Premature birth, low birth weight, and prenatal infections are risk factors. They can elevate the likelihood of cerebral palsy. Understanding and addressing these factors are essential in preventive efforts.
  • Lifetime Impact: The condition’s prevalence is notable in childhood. Individuals with cerebral palsy continue to live with its effects throughout their lives. It underscores the long-term impact on affected populations.
  • Advancements in Care: Early intervention plans and advances in obstetric practice are severe. They have contributed to improved outcomes. But, the prevalence of cerebral palsy remains an essential factor in public health discussions.

Answering how common cerebral palsy is is crucial for public health planning. It is also vital for resource allocation and awareness raising. It is essential to improve support systems for people living with this disease.


Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
CP manifests through various signs, a neurological condition affecting movement and posture. The specific cerebral palsy symptoms can vary widely among individuals and may change over time. It’s important to note that the severity and combination of these signs differ widely. Individuals with spastic paralysis may face unique challenges. Early intervention, supportive care, and adaptive technologies are critical. They help manage and improve the quality of life of people with cerebral palsy.


Motor Impairments

They are a hallmark of cerebral palsy symptoms. They encompass a variety of challenges related to movement control and coordination. Here is a list of motor impairments associated with CP:

  • Spasticity: Increased muscle tone leading to stiffness and difficulty with movement.
  • Weakness: Reduced muscle strength affecting various muscle groups.
  • Incoordination: Difficulty coordinating movements, impacting activities requiring precision.
  • Involuntary Movements: Uncontrolled spasms or jerking motions affecting different body parts.
  • Balance Issues: Challenges in maintaining equilibrium, affecting sitting, standing, or walking.
  • Acceptable Motor Skill Delays: Difficulty with complex movements, affecting tasks. Among them are writing or buttoning up buttons.
  • Gait Abnormalities: Distinctive walking patterns, such as toe-walking or an unsteady gait.
  • Joint Contractures: Limited range of motion due to muscle tightness, affecting joint flexibility.
  • Difficulty with Reflexes: Altered or exaggerated reflex responses impacting motor coordination.

The combination and severity of these motor impairments vary. It highlights the diverse nature of spastic paralysis presentations.


Involuntary Movements

These are prominent cerebral palsy symptoms. It contributes to the diverse array of signs associated with this neurological condition. These movements disrupt the brain’s ability to regulate and coordinate movement. Here is a closer look at involuntary movements in the context of CP:

  • Spasms: Sudden, involuntary muscle contractions that can lead to jerking or twitching motions.
  • Athetosis: Slow, twisting movements, often affecting the hands, feet, and face.
  • Chorea: Rapid, unpredictable movements that may seem purposeless.
  • Dystonia: Sustained muscle contractions causing twisting or repetitive movements and abnormal postures.
  • Tremors: Rhythmic, shaking movements, which can vary in intensity.

Involuntary seizures in CP can impact daily activities. They affect mobility, communication, and overall quality of life. Treatment often involves a combination of therapy, medications, and supportive interventions. They help to address specific movement problems.


Balance and Coordination Issues

Such cerebral palsy symptoms are common challenges. They impact individuals’ ability to move, stand, and walk independently. These difficulties arise from disruptions in the brain’s motor control centers. Here’s an exploration of the balance and coordination issues associated with CP:

  • Unsteady Gait: Individuals with CP may exhibit an uneven or unsteady walking pattern. It affects their ability to move smoothly.
  • Difficulty Standing: Maintaining an upright position can be challenging. It leads to instability when standing still.
  • Challenges in Sitting: Maintaining a stable sitting posture may be difficult for some people.
  • Coordination Impairments: Difficulty in coordinating movements between different body parts. It impacts tasks that require precision.
  • Frequent Falls: Balance issues contribute to an increased risk of falls. Especially during activities that involve movement.
  • Impaired Spatial Awareness: Difficulty judging distances can affect coordination during activities.
  • Walking: Some individuals with CP may walk on their toes, further complicating balance.

Therapies and exercises play crucial roles in addressing these balance and coordination challenges. They help individuals with CP enhance their mobility and independence in daily life.


Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy

Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy
CP is often associated with various risk agents. They contribute to the development of this neurological condition. Identifying and comprehending these key risk factors for cerebral palsy is critical. It is necessary for preventive measures and early intervention. Understanding these risk agents empowers healthcare professionals to implement preventive measures. Also, it helps to offer appropriate prenatal care and identify early signs of cerebral palsy for timely intervention.


Premature Birth

Premature birth, defined as delivery before 37 weeks of gestation, is a significant risk factor for cerebral palsy. This is a critical association between premature birth and such disorders. This highlights the vulnerability of the developing brain to complications. They appear when it is not given sufficient time to mature. Here are essential points to understand about this relationship:

  • Brain Development: The last weeks of pregnancy are crucial for fetal brain development. Premature infants may not have fully developed cerebral structures. They increase the risk of neurological issues, including CP.
  • Incidence Rates: Babies born before 32 weeks are more likely to develop cerebral palsy compared to full-term babies.
  • Multiple Risk Factors: Premature birth often coincides with other risk factors. Among them are low birth weight and respiratory complications, further elevating the risk of cerebral palsy.
  • Mechanisms of Injury: Premature birth can have serious consequences. These are hypoxia, intraventricular hemorrhage, and periventricular leukomalacia. They contribute to brain damage and increase the likelihood of CP.
  • Interventions and Prevention: Intensive medical care and interventions in neonatal units. They aim to cut the impact of prematurity on brain development, potentially reducing the risk factor for cerebral palsy.

Knowing the relationship between preterm birth and such disorder is essential. It highlights the need for prenatal care. Among them are the early identification of risk factors and specialized care for preterm infants. This is vital to mitigate potential neurological complications.


Low Birth Weight

Low birth weight is a recognized vital risk factor for cerebral palsy. It emphasizes the impact of inadequate fetal growth on neurological development. Here are essential insights into the relationship between low birth weight and the risk of cerebral palsy:

  1. Definition: Low birth weight is typically below 2,500 grams (5.5 pounds). Infants with low birth weight are more susceptible to developmental challenges. They include those affecting the brain.
  2. Increased Vulnerability: Babies born with low birth weight often face an increased risk of developing CP. The association highlights the vulnerability of underdeveloped organs and systems.
  3. Causes of Low Birth Weight: Such factors include premature birth and poor maternal nutrition. Also, these include maternal health problems and multiple pregnancies.
  4. Intrauterine Growth Restriction: Low birth weight may result from inadequate fetal growth. It is famous for intrauterine growth restriction. IUGR can impact organ development, including the brain.
  5. Neonatal Intensive Care: Low-birth-weight infants may require specialized care in NICUs. It helps to address potential complications and reduce the risk factor for cerebral palsy.

Comprehending the role of low birth weight as a risk factor for CP highlights the importance of prenatal care. 


Jaundice and Kernicterus

These are significant factors associated with an increased risk of CP, particularly in newborns. Understanding this relationship is crucial for early intervention and preventive measures. Here’s a numerous list highlighting key aspects:

  1. Hyperbilirubinemia: Jaundice occurs when there is a buildup of bilirubin in the baby’s blood. It causes yellowing of the skin and eyes.
  2. Brain Damage: If severe jaundice is not promptly treated. Excessive bilirubin levels can lead to kernicterus, a form of brain damage.
  3. Neurological Implications: Kernicterus affects explicitly the basal ganglia and the auditory system. It contributes to motor and developmental issues.
  4. Increased Cerebral Palsy Risk: Kernicterus is a risk factor for cerebral palsy. They highlight the importance of monitoring and treating jaundice in newborns.
  5. Preventive Measures: Phototherapy or exchange transfusions can effectively manage jaundice. They reduce the risk of kernicterus and associated complications.

Knowledge of the relationship between jaundice, kernicterus, and this brain disorder y is vital. It highlights the importance of preventive health care. It helps to reduce the risk of neurological complications in newborns.



So, what is cerebral palsy? It becomes clear that it is a neurological disorder impacting movement and posture. The signs, ranging from motor impairments to speech challenges, highlight the condition’s complexity. Recognizing risk factors, such as premature birth and low birth weight, is pivotal for early intervention. In pursuing holistic care, initiatives like Lone Star Neurology emphasize support and achievement. They play a critical role in improving people’s lives with CP.



Can cerebral palsy be cured?

Cerebral palsy is uncureness. However, various therapies and interventions can help manage signs and improve the quality of life.

What types of therapies help people with cerebral palsy?

Different therapies, including physical, occupational, and speech therapy, play integral roles. They help individuals with cerebral palsy enhance their motor skills, communication, and independence.

Is cerebral palsy hereditary?

Cerebral palsy is typically not hereditary, with most cases resulting from factors. Among them are prenatal complications, birth-related issues, or early childhood events.

How can parents support a child with cerebral palsy?

Parents can support a child with cerebral palsy. They need to foster a supportive and inclusive environment. Also, parents need to collaborate with healthcare professionals. Tailoring interventions and advocating for their child’s unique needs and abilities is vital.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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