Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. CP is the most common motor disability in childhood. Cerebral means having to do with the brain. Palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles. CP is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles.
The symptoms of CP vary from person to person. A person with severe CP might need to use special equipment in order to walk, or may not be able to walk at all and could require lifelong care. A person with mild CP, on the other hand, might have an awkward gait, walking with a limp or may even have limited use of certain parts of his or her body, but might not need any special assistance. CP does not get worse over time, though the exact symptoms can change over a person’s lifetime.
All people with CP have problems with movement and posture. Many also have related conditions such as intellectual disability, seizures, problems with vision, hearing, or speech, changes in the spine (such as scoliosis), or joint problems (such as contractures).