Understanding cerebral palsy

Library Articles | October 17, 2017

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Attorney Ronald E. Johnson of Hendy Johnson Vaughn Emery concentrates on legal issues surrounding children’s birth injuries. Cerebral palsy is a form of birth injury that sometimes occurs due to birth trauma. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has information and resources for parents who want to know more about cerebral palsy.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a type of neurological disorder that happens in babies and early childhood. It affects that child’s body movement and muscle coordination. Cerebral palsy is caused by problems in the parts of the brain that direct muscle movement.

Most children who have cerebral palsy were born with it. The signs should occur before the child reaches 3 years of age.

The symptoms include:

  • lack of muscle coordination
  • stiff or tight muscles
  • exaggerated reflexes
  • walking while dragging one foot
  • walking on the toes
  • a crouched walk
  • floppy or stiff muscle tone

What causes cerebral palsy?

  • possible brain damage in the first months or years of life
  • brain infections like bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis
  • head injury from a car accident, fall, or child abuse

How is cerebral palsy treated?

There is no cure for cerebral palsy. Various treatment methods can help the child to overcome some developmental disabilities. Many children with cerebral palsy can live an almost normal adult life is the parents learn to help the child manage the disabilities.

Treatment may include:

  • physical therapy
  • occupational therapy
  • speech therapy
  • drugs to manage seizures
  • drugs to help muscle spasms to relax
  • drugs to manage pain
  • surgery to correct anatomical abnormalities or release tight muscles
  • braces and orthotic devices
  • wheelchairs and rolling walkers
  • communication aids such as computers with attached voice synthesizers

Where can parents get more information on cerebral palsy?

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP)
1660 L Street, NW
Suite 700

Washington, DC   20036
[email protected]


Tel: 202-776-0406 800-USA-5UCP (872-5827)
Fax: 202-776-0414

Pathways Awareness Foundation [For Children With Movement Difficulties]
150 N. Michigan Avenue
Suite 2100
Chicago, IL   60601
[email protected]
Tel: 312-893-6620 800-955-CHILD (2445)
Fax: 312-893-6621

March of Dimes Foundation
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY   10605
[email protected]
Tel: 914-428-7100 888-MODIMES (663-4637)
Fax: 914-428-8203

Easter Seals
233 South Wacker Drive
Suite 2400
Chicago, IL   60606
[email protected]
Tel: 312-726-6200 800-221-6827
Fax: 312-726-1494

Children’s Neurobiological Solutions (CNS) Foundation
1726 Franceschi Road
Santa Barbara, CA   93101
[email protected]


Tel: 866-CNS-5580 (267-5580) 805-898-4442

Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Assocn. (CHASA)
4101 West Green Oaks Blvd., Ste. 305
PMB 149
Arlington, TX   76016
[email protected]
Tel: 817-492-4325

Cerebral Palsy International Research Foundation
1025 Connecticut Avenue
Suite 701
Washington, DC   20036
[email protected]
Tel: 202-496-5060

Pedal with Pete [For Research on Cerebral Palsy]
P.O. Box 274
Kent, OH   44240
[email protected]
Tel: 800-304-PETE (7383)
Fax: 330-673-1240

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