Our quick guide to key words and phrases you may read on our site


Ataxia Lack of balance and jerky quality of movements typically caused by damage to the cerebellum. Some children with cerebral palsy have ataxia

Athetosis – Another term for Dyskinesia (see dyskinesia)


Bilateral spasticity Difficulties affect the whole body, where the arms or legs may be more affected. A term often used in research or registers of the frequency of different types of cerebral palsy and includes children with diplegia and quadriplegia

Birth trauma – The physical (or possibly emotional) shock that an infant experiences while being born


Cerebellum – The part of the brain that coordinates movement, walking and balance. The cerebellum is located on the back of the brainstem

Cerebral palsy – This describes a life-long disability caused by damage to parts of the brain linked to the development of movement and posture

Choreoathetosis Another term for Dyskinesia (see dyskinesia)

Clinical Audit A process which aims to improve quality of patient care and outcomes through a formal review of care against specific criteria or standards and then implementing changes to care

Contracture Tightness of muscles and joints which may be permanent or appear fixed, producing a limitation of joint movement


Deformity Body or limbs fixed in an abnormal position, e.g. hip dislocation, scoliosis (spine bending to one side), kyphosis (rounded upper back)

Developmental milestones – Anticipated or expected age at which children develop certain skills and/or abilities. Examples include walking, talking, toilet training, etc.

Diplegia – A type of Spastic Cerebral Palsy that affects the legs or lower extremities more severely than the upper extremities

Dyskinesia/Dyskinetic Disordered movement; a term which is often used as an umbrella for all children with cerebral palsy who have some form of unwanted, involuntary movements

Dystonic A type of dyskinesia where sudden increases in tone occur (dystonic spasms), which may temporarily fix the child in atypical postures



Fundraising – As we are a charity we need support to be able to help others – donate now!


Goals – Specific objectives set in treatment

Goal attainment scaling (GAS) – Individual goals set for a child with a scale of five possible outcomes. Zero is the desired outcome, but if the child performs better than expected, they may achieve a score of +1 or +2, and if they do not quite achieve the predicted outcome but still improve they may achieve a -2 or -1

Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) This classifies children with cerebral palsy aged 0-18 years into five levels according to age and their level of independent mobility. For example, a child in level I would and run with some limitations on uneven surfaces, whereas a child in level III would need a walking frame or other aids to walk and might use a wheelchair for longer distances, and a child in level V might only be able to roll on the floor and for mobility would need a powered wheelchair or to be pushed in a wheelchair


Hemiplegia – A type of spastic cerebral palsy affecting one side of the body

Helping hands – This is our funded scheme to pay for therapy sessions 

Hypotonia When parts or all of the body feel very loose and floppy. They can be moved in greater ranges than expected

Hypertonia When parts or all of the body feel stiff. Movement is limited in the affected parts


Involuntary movements Unintentional and/or unpredictable movements





Manual Ability Classification System (MACS) This classifies children with cerebral palsy aged 4-18yrs according to their level of independent hand function. For example, a child in level I would handle objects easily and only have limitations in speed or accuracy whereas a child in level V would have severely limited ability to handle any objects and require full assistance

Measure of Processes of Care (MPOC) A standardised outcome measure which aims to identify parents’ perceptions of the extent to which certain health professionals’ behaviour occurs within childhood rehabilitation services, which are considered to represent important aspects of delivering a family-centred service.

Mini MACS An addendum to the Manual Ability Classification System which can be used in children between 1-4yrs

Mixed cerebral palsy or mixed-type cerebral palsy – A type of cerebral palsy characterised by tight muscle tone (associated with spastic cerebral palsy and involuntary muscle movement associated with athetoid cerebral palsy)

Muscle tone – The amount of tension or resistance of movement in a muscle



Outcome measure An objective test or scale used to measure progress before and after therapy which has been shown to accurately measure a particular skill e.g. the Assisting Hand Assessment which measures how much and how well a child uses their non-dominant hand


Palsy or paralysis – A total or partial loss of muscle function in the body

Parasis or plegia – Terms used to describe paralysis associated with cerebral palsy

Paraplegia – A type of spastic cerebral palsy that affects the legs or lower extremities

Performance Indicators Performance indicators help organisations understand how well they are performing in relation to their goals and objectives. They are quantifiable measurements, agreed to beforehand, by which the performance, efficiency, achievement, etc. of an organisation can be assessed, in comparison with an agreed standard or target

Postural tone State of readiness of muscles to do work which can be seen and felt as some tension within the muscles at rest


Quadriplegia – A type of spastic cerebral palsy in which both the upper and lower extremities are affected by spasticity



Spastic cerebral palsy – The most common form of cerebral palsy; marked by hypertonic (very toned) muscles, and stiff and jerky movements

Spacticity – A state of increased tension in the muscles. This usually results in rigid, inflexible muscles impairing movement