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Fact Sheet: Cerebral Palsy

Definition

Cerebral palsy is the name given to a group of permanent, usually non-progressive disorders marked by loss or impairment of control over voluntary muscles. It results from damage to the developing brain that may occur before, during, or after birth, up to 5 years of age. Cerebral palsy is not a disease and should not be referred to as such. Forms of cerebral palsy include:

  • Spastic: muscles over-contract when stretched, resulting in stiff, jerky motions; joints are sometimes fixed in abnormal positions
  • Athetoid: constant movement of muscles; difficulties with speech because of slurred speech and poor hearing
  • Ataxic: Inability to maintain balance or coordination; individuals may have to be protected from falling or have to wear a protective helmet

Other types do occur, although infrequently. Any one individual may have a combination of these types. Cerebral palsy is often, but not always, associated with a number of other complications which may include:

  • Speech, hearing and vision problems
  • Perceptual problems, which often interfere with learning
  • Approximately one-third of people with cerebral palsy also have mental retardation

Resources

United Cerebral Palsy Associations, Inc.

1660 L Street N.W.; Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
Voice: (202) 776-0406
TTY: (202) 973-7197
Voice/TTY: (800) 872-5827
Fax: (202) 776-0414
E-mail: ucpnatl@ucpa.org
Web site: www.ucpa.org

UCP has many state chapters and affiliated organizations.

Independent Living Research Utilization Project (ILRU)

The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research
2323 South Sheppard, Suite 1000
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 520-0232; (713) 520-5136 (TT)
E-mail:
ilru@ilru.org
Web site: www.ilru.org