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Cerebral Palsy Quick Facts


  • Cerebral palsy is a broad term used to describe conditions whereby brain trauma adversely affects a child's motor abilities.

  • The United Cerebral Palsy Associations estimate that more than 500,000 Americans have Cerebral Palsy.

  • Cerebral palsy is classified into four broad categories: Spastic, Athetoid (or dyskinetic), Ataxic, and Mixed.

  • Spastic cerebral palsy affects 70 to 80 percent of patients and is characterized by stiff or permanently contracted muscles .

  • Athetoid cerebral palsy affects 10 to 20 percent of patients and is characterized by uncontrolled, slow, writhing movements .

  • Ataxic cerebral palsy is a rare form that affects 5 to 10 percent of patients. This form of cerebral palsy affects the sense of depth and perception and results in poor coordination and difficulty with quick or precise movements .

  • Mixed cerebral palsy occurs when a patient has symptoms of two or more of these forms. Many combinations are possible, but the most common mixed form is a blend of the spastic and athetoid forms .

  • A number of other medical disorders are associated with cerebral palsy including: mental impairment, seizures or epilepsy, growth problems, impaired vision or hearing, and abnormal sensation or perception .

  • In the United States, a minority- 10 to 20 percent- of the children who have cerebral palsy acquire the disorder after birth .

  • The majority of children with cerebral palsy develop the condition during prenatal development or childbirth . Many of the causes of cerebral palsy at these stages are preventable.

  • Brain damage in the first few months or years of life can cause acquired cerebral palsy . Causes of early brain damage can include brain infection (for example, meningitis or viral encephalitis) and head injury (for example, from a motor vehicle accident, a fall, or child abuse).

  • Congenital cerebral palsy is present at birth. Some of the common causes include infections during pregnancy, jaundice in the infant, Rh incompatibility, severe oxygen shortage in the brain, trauma to the head during labor and delivery, and stroke .

  • In many cases, cerebral palsy is preventable and may be due to medical negligence.

  • Low birth- weight babies are 100 times more likely to develop cerebral palsy than normal birthweight infants are.

  • There is currently no cure for cerebral palsy , but treatments for cerebral palsy can be used to manage this condition and help a child reach his or her potential. This treatments and therapies include physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, surgery, braces, and more.

  • The average lifetime cost for a person with cerebral palsy totals nearly $1 million over and above the costs experienced by a person without the disability.



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