Children's Hospital Colorado

Cerebral Palsy

What is cerebral palsy (CP)?

Cerebral palsy, also known as CP, is a term used to describe a group of chronic (long-lasting) conditions affecting body movement, posture and muscle coordination. This can cause activity restriction or disability.

Cerebral palsy ranges in severity from mild and hardly detectable to very severe. The motor impairment can be accompanied by a seizure disorder and problems with sensation (feeling), cognition (thinking), respiratory dysfunction (breathing), communication and/or behavior.

What does cerebral palsy mean?

Quite simply, the word "cerebral" refers to the brain and "palsy" describes muscle weakness and poor control.

What causes cerebral palsy?

CP is caused by disturbances to one or more areas of the brain. This usually happens while a baby is still in the womb, during or right after birth or during infancy. Damage to the motor areas of the brain disrupts the brain's ability to adequately control movement and posture.

What is the incidence of cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is the most common developmental disability in the United States, affecting about four out of every 1,000 live births.

What is the prognosis for cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is not progressive, which means it does not get worse. However, secondary conditions like muscle spasticity can get worse over time. As the muscle spasticity continues, progressive deformities of the muscles, bones and joints can occur as the child grows despite the fact that the disturbance of the brain is not getting worse.

Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, treatment, training and therapy by the experts at Children's Hospital Colorado can help improve your child's function. Within our internationally-renowned Cerebral Palsy Program, we care for approximately 2,000 kids, teens and young adults with CP.

Contact the Pediatric Rehabilitation department

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