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Cerebral Palsy

What is Cerebral Palsy (CP)?

Cerebral Palsy is a condition that affects muscle tone, movement and coordination. It happens when the brain can't properly send messages to muscles about how to move in smooth or well-coordinated ways.


It is usually caused by an injury to the brain before, during or after birth. Children with cerebral palsy have difficulties in controlling muscles and movements as they grow and develop.


Does Cerebral Palsy Change?

Cerebral palsy itself is not progressive; the injury to the brain does not change. However, the effects may change over time for better or worse.

Is there a cure for Cerebral Palsy?

​There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, but physiotherapy and other therapies can often help people with Cerebral Palsy become more independent. No two people will be affected by their cerebral palsy in the same way, and it is important to ensure treatments and therapies are tailored to individual needs.


Types of Cerebral Palsy?​​

There are three main ways to describe Cerebral Palsy according to how the persons' movements are affected. Many people with Cerebral Palsy will have a mixture of these types.


  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy (stiffness or tightness of muscles)

  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy (uncontrolled movements)

  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy (lack of balance and coordination)


No two people with Cerebral Palsy are affected in the same way. Some have Cerebral Palsy so mildly that it's barely noticeable. Others may be profoundly affected and require help with many or all aspects of their daily life. And then there are many with something in between (often refered to as moderate).

In Australia, Cerebral Palsy affects about one in every 400 children. Every 18 hours a child is born with Cerebral Palsy.


Cerebral Palsy is one of the most common disabilities and it can affect people from all social backgrounds and ethnic groups.

Cerebral Palsy & Associated Conditions

Some people with Cerebral Palsy may have associated conditions; while others may not. These can include:


  • Learning difficulty (although children with Cerebral Palsy cover the same range of intelligence as other children)

  • Epilepsy (up to a third of children with Cerebral Palsy)

  • Hearing impairment (only 8% of children)

  • Vision impairments

  • Problems with sleep

  • Communication difficulties

  • Swallowing issues and drooling

  • Problems with toileting

  • Spatial awareness and perception

  • Behaviour issues (one in four children with Cerebral Palsy)

  • Sensory disorders


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