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How Common Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition caused by damage or injury to the brain before birth or during early childhood. Cerebral palsy affects movement and posture and causes problems with muscle tone, coordination, balance, speech, vision, hearing, cognition, sensation, and emotions.

The condition often leads to intellectual and developmental disabilities. There is no cure for cerebral palsy. Treatment focuses on helping children develop their skills and abilities through therapy and other interventions.

Do you suspect a doctor or nurse's error led to your child's cerebral palsy, or another birth injury? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC advocate for children born with birth defects or injuries.

Call our cerebral palsy lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder caused by damage to the developing brain during pregnancy or birth. It causes problems with movement and coordination. There are three main types: dyskinesia, athetoid, and spastic cerebral palsy.

Spastic cerebral palsy occurs when muscles become tight and stiff because of injury to the nerves controlling those muscles. In dyskinesia, the person cannot move certain body parts properly. Uncontrollable jerks of the arms and legs characterize athetoid cerebral palsy.

How Common Is Cerebral Palsy?

A population-based study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that cerebral palsy affects about one out of every ten children in the United States. About half of those cases occur because of premature birth and low birth weight.

Many risk factors contribute to cerebral palsy prevalence, including genetic disorders, infections during pregnancy, and brain injuries.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

There are four main types of cerebral palsy and each affects different areas of the brain. Some children have dyskinesia and spastic cerebral palsy. Others have only one of those conditions.

Spasticity is the most commonly diagnosed type of cerebral palsy that often involves an injury to the motor neurons in the spine, the nerve cells that control movement. Damaged neurons send out incorrect signals to muscles, causing them to tighten up.

Dyskinesia is another type of cerebral palsy that involves involuntary muscle movements. Children with dyskinesia may move their arms uncontrollably or jerk their legs. Sometimes it looks like they are having seizures.

Ataxic cerebral palsy occurs when the cerebellum is affected. The cerebellum controls coordination and balance. If the cerebellum isn't working correctly, the child may walk unsteadily and stumble over small objects.

Cerebral palsy is sometimes called "motor neuron disease." Motor neuron diseases affect the nervous system. In some cases, the cause isn't known.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy Cases

Most children with spastic cerebral palsy have difficulty walking and need assistance with mobility. Muscle tightness can cause the legs to be turned inward (known as "scissoring") or outward, making it difficult to stand up straight or walk normally.

Spasticity may also affect the hands, arms, and torso muscles. Some affected children have difficulty with fine motor skills, such as writing or using a spoon.

Spastic Hemiplegia

Hemiplegia is a form of spastic cerebral palsy which affects one side of the body. It's caused by damage to the brain that results in stiffness on one side and weakness on the other.

Children with spastic hemiplegia have difficulty walking, as their legs will be pulled inward toward their weaker side.

Spastic Quadriplegia

Spastic quadriplegia is the most severe form of spastic cerebral palsy. It affects all four limbs and can cause significant muscle tightness or stiffness in the legs, arms, torso, and face. It may also affect breathing and swallowing.

Children with this type of cerebral palsy often need help with basic activities such as walking, eating, and dressing.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy includes Athetoid, Choreoathetosis, and Dystonic Cerebral Palsies)

Dyskinesia is a neurologic disorder characterized by involuntary and uncontrollable muscle contractions. These contractions may occur in one part of the body or throughout the entire body. People with dyskinetic cerebral palsy (CP) have problems controlling movement. It makes walking, sitting, standing, speaking, eating, and using utensils difficult.

People with dyskinetic CP have some degree of intellectual disability. Some other people with dyskinetic CP have normal intelligence.

There are three main types of cerebral palsy

Athetoid cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brainstem. This type of CP affects muscles for moving parts of the face, head, neck, arms, legs, and trunk. Athetoid CP causes jerky movements and abnormal facial expressions.

Choreoathetotic cerebral palsy is caused by damage in the basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum, or cortex. This type of cerebral palsy causes jerky movements, twitching, and abnormal postures. Choreoathetotic CP affects the limbs, torso, and head.

Dystonic cerebral palsy is caused by damage anywhere along the motor pathway. Dystonic CP affects the whole body. It causes repetitive motions such as writhing, twisting, and grimacing.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

People with ataxia cerebral palsy often have difficulty walking. They may fall over easily. It is because they lack coordination and balance. Their muscles don't work together properly. In some cases, they may have problems with vision, hearing, speech, swallowing, breathing, and eating.

There are several types of ataxia cerebral paralysis. Some people have milder symptoms, while others have much worse symptoms.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy affects children differently depending on what part of the brain is affected. Some people are born with a genetic mutation that leads to cerebral palsy. Others develop it later in life because of a traumatic injury or infection. In some cases, there is no known cause.

The most common symptoms include difficulty walking, talking, eating, and swallowing. Other signs include poor vision, hearing impairment, seizures, intellectual disability, and cognitive delays.

Causes and Risk Factors of Dyskinesia, Athetoid, and Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is one of the most common causes of physical disability in childhood. It affects about 2 out of every 1000 live births worldwide. It occurs in approximately 1 out of every 500 newborns in the United States alone. There are many different types of cerebral palsy, each with its own symptoms and characteristics.

There are several risk factors associated with developing the disorder. These include being born too early, having low birth weight, premature rupture of membranes, maternal infection during pregnancy, and certain genetic disorders.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's central database maintains screening information on cerebral palsy cases throughout the United States. Screening can help identify health issues that could cause severe problems.

The common causes of cerebral palsy include lack of oxygen, stroke, brain infection, and abnormal brain development.

Congenital Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects movement and muscle coordination. People with cerebral palsy often use wheelchairs and walkers to move around. They may have developmental disabilities resulting in difficulty speaking, eating, walking, and learning.

In some cases, children with cerebral palsy never learn how to speak.

People with cerebral palsy usually have normal intelligence. However, some people with CP have intellectual disabilities.

Risk Factors for Congenital Cerebral Palsy

Congenital cerebral palsy (CP) is one of the most common types of disability in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 2 out of every 1000 babies are affected by cerebral palsy.

Although there are many causes of cerebral palsy, it is usually caused by problems during fetal development. Some mothers have a history of having a baby with CP, while others have no known risk factors.

Sometimes, the mother is genetically predisposed to having a child with CP.

There are several risk factors associated with CP. These include:

  • Maternal age
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Body mass index
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Preeclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Multiple gestations
  • Preterm birth
  • Congenital anomalies
  • Infection
  • Exposure to teratogens such as radiation, drugs, and chemicals

Dyskinesia, Athetoid, and Spastic Cerebral Palsy Prevalence and Characteristics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately two million people worldwide have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to brain development during pregnancy or childbirth. It causes problems with muscle control and movement.

Children born preterm or very small are more likely to develop cerebral palsy. About 50% of those affected can walk independently.

Walking Ability

Children with cerebral palsy often struggle to walk independently. They may use a wheelchair, crutches, braces, or orthotics to help them move around. But there are things you can do to make walking easier for your child.

Many factors affect whether a child with spastic cerebral palsy can walk. These include age, the severity of the disability, and family support. Some children with the condition will continue developing throughout childhood and adolescence, meaning that their ability to walk will improve over time.

In a Baby Younger Than 6 Months of Age

Babies younger than six months old are the most vulnerable group among children under five. This age group accounts for about half of all deaths worldwide among children under five years of age, the period during which many diseases are contracted.

According to WHO statistics, there are approximately 2 million cases of pneumonia every day, resulting in over 600,000 child deaths. Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of death among young children.

In a Baby Older Than 10 Months of Age

Most babies are born with the ability to move around on their bellies, but it takes some time for them to develop the strength and coordination needed to crawl. Most babies don't start walking until about nine months of age.

Babies usually do not begin to crawl until later because they still have much growing to do. Their bodies are not fully developed enough to support themselves while moving around on their stomachs. They also lack the muscle control to push off with their arms and legs.

Crawling is one of the earliest milestones that babies achieve. By crawling, babies learn how to use their body weight to propel themselves forward. It helps them gain balance and prepare themselves for standing up.

Screening and Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis

Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that affects movement and muscle coordination. It occurs in babies born prematurely, those that are very small, or those whose mothers are affected by certain infections during pregnancy.

In some cerebral palsy cases, the condition is due to damage to the baby's brain during delivery. If you think your baby might have cerebral palsy, it's crucial to seek medical attention immediately.

Diagnosing cerebral palsy requires a thorough evaluation of your child's physical appearance, including checking for signs of head injury, hearing loss, vision impairment, seizures, feeding difficulties, and intellectual disability.

You may also ask questions about your child's health and developmental history. A doctor will perform several diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, and CT scans. These images provide information about your child's brain structure and function.

Developmental Disabilities Monitoring

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developmental disabilities monitoring is a vital component of early intervention programs. It is one of the most effective ways to prevent behavioral issues later in life. Children are born with certain skills and abilities, but those skills and abilities change over time.

As babies grow into toddlers, they develop motor skills such as walking and talking, learning how to use tools and playing games. They start to understand cause and effect.

By age 3, children can recognize objects and people and tell you what they want. But there are some things that parents don't know about their child's development.

Parents often assume that because their child seems fine now, they won't experience any developmental disabilities or learning problems later. This assumption could lead to missed opportunities to detect developmental delays and disorders.

Early Detection Leads to Better Outcomes

Parents often think that if something isn't wrong with their child, it probably won't become a problem. However, many conditions that affect children today began developing during infancy or childhood.

These developmental disabilities might include:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Speech delay, anxiety, and depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Oppositional defiant disorder
  • Conduct disorder
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Other developmental disabilities

These conditions can negatively impact social interactions, learning, behavior, physical health, and emotional well-being if left untreated.

A developmental disabilities screening test will help determine whether your child needs additional evaluation or treatment. For example, a parent may notice that their toddler doesn't seem interested in toys or books.

Or maybe the child is having trouble communicating with family members. A developmental disabilities screen can help pinpoint where the issue lies.

The Right Screening Tool

There are several different types of developmental disability screens available. Some tests focus on specific areas such as language, cognition, vision, hearing, and motor skills. Others look at overall development.

Even online versions allow parents to take a quick test without traveling to see a doctor.

Regardless of the type of screen used, the goal is to determine if your child is experiencing difficulties. Once identified, early intervention can help improve your child's quality of life.

Developmental Screening

A developmental disabilities screen is done to see how well babies develop. It includes testing vision, hearing, movement, reflexes, coordination, language, cognition, social skills, emotional regulation, and gross motor skills.

The goal of developmental disabilities screening is to identify delays early enough to provide intervention. Early identification allows parents to make changes to help their child reach their full potential.

Developmental and Medical Evaluations

A developmental screening consists of several tests, including a physical exam, a vision/hearing test, and a neurological exam.

These tests help determine whether there are any problems with development or health issues. Some of the most common developmental screens include:

  • Physical exam includes checking growth parameters such as height, weight, head circumference, etc.
  • Hearing screening involves testing how well you hear sounds.
  • Vision screening includes testing how well you see things.

There are many different forms of medical evaluations available. For example, some people prefer to use a pediatrician, while others choose to go to a general practitioner. Both options offer similar services. However, each one offers something unique.

Dyskinesia, Athetoid, and Spastic Cerebral Palsy Treatments and Intervention Services

Being diagnosed with cerebral palsy affects every aspect of life. Children with cerebral palsy, birth defects, or other developmental disabilities, often cannot walk, talk, eat, play, learn, communicate, or even move around safely.

If they experience the common symptoms of cerebral palsy, they may require assistance with feeding, dressing, toileting, mobility, communication, and many other daily activities. Some children with CP experience seizures, while others do not.

Early intervention helps children achieve better long-term outcomes. It includes early detection of problems, such as:

  • Delays in motor development
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Speech delay
  • Epilepsy

These issues must be addressed quickly because they affect how well a child learns and performs tasks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatment options vary depending on the specific type and severity of the symptoms. Most children receive physical, occupational, speech, and/or behavioral counseling.

Medications may help control pain, reduce muscle stiffness, improve coordination, and treat seizures. Surgery may be required to correct structural abnormalities.

Managing and Treating Cerebral Palsy Cases

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders caused by damage to the brain during development. Cerebral palsy affects movement and muscle coordination. Most children and adults with cerebral palsy experience some degree of disability.

Some with cerebral palsy use assistive devices such as braces, wheelchairs, crutches, or walkers. Others learn how to compensate for their disabilities by developing strategies to overcome challenges.

Early intervention helps children develop the skills necessary to live independently. Children with cerebral palsy often require physical therapy and occupational therapy. Speech therapists work with children to improve communication skills. These therapies help improve motor function, balance, strength, and range of motion.

Surgical Intervention Helps in Some Cerebral Palsy Cases

Surgery is an option if another treatment isn't working. A surgeon removes part of the skull to relieve pressure on the brain.

This surgery is usually performed early in life to prevent further injury to the brain. If there is no improvement in symptoms after surgery, additional procedures may be considered.


Make sure you remain healthy during pregnancy. Get plenty of rest, eat well, avoid alcohol and drugs, and keep up with prenatal vitamins.

Make sure you get regular checkups and vaccinations. If you've had problems with your previous pregnancies, talk to your doctor about what you can do to reduce the chance of birth complications.

Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer to Resolve Your Medical Malpractice Case

Do you suspect medical negligence resulted in your child developing cerebral palsy or other developmental disabilities? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you seek monetary recovery for damages caused by another's negligence.

Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against those responsible for causing the birth injury can provide monetary compensation over and above government assistance available from benefit programs for children with cerebral palsy.

Contact us at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

We accept all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning no upfront fees are paid until we resolve your case through a negotiated settlement or jury award.


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