What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a broad diagnostic term used to describe a problem with

movement and posture that makes certain activities difficult. Although someone

who has cerebral palsy may have problems moving his or her muscles, this is not

because there is something wrong with the muscles or nerves. These difficulties

are caused because of problems in the brain. CP can be the result of an injury to

the brain during gestation or in the first year of life, or it occur when the brain

does not develop properly during gestation. The injured or abnormal brain is

unable to optimally control movement and posture.


Simply stated, “cerebral” refers to the brain, and “palsy” refers to muscle

weakness and poor control. Although the brain itself will not get worse, people

who have CP will usually change over time. Sometimes they will get better, and

some patients will stay the same. Occasionally they will get worse, usually

because of changing muscle tone or development of joint contractures.


There is currently no cure for CP; however there are different treatment options

for people who have it. These options include therapy, medications, surgery,

education and support. By taking advantage of these treatments, people with CP

can . . .