What is cerebral palsy?

If you’re just starting your journey into understanding cerebral palsy, then you are in safe hands with us.

We recognise that some of the terminology may be unfamiliar, so we will always try to give a plain English explanation. 

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

It’s the most common physical disability in childhood – occurring in around 2 in every 1000 live births. The damage happens in the brain and it means that someone’s ability to walk, talk or their fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil can be permanently affected. There are different types of cerebral palsy: Hemiplegia – where one side of the body is affected; diplegia where the lower half of the body is affected; and quadriplegia where the entire body is affected.

People with cerebral palsy can either have very tight or very floppy muscles, which affects their mobility. There might be communication challenges, or difficulty eating and drinking. Vision can be impacted, alongside learning difficulties and sensory processing. Because the brain is so complex, and the damage that happens can vary, it affects each person differently.  

How do I know if my child has cerebral palsy?

Things to look out for in the early years can include:

  • delays in reaching development milestones – for example, not sitting by eight months or not walking by 18 months
  • appearing too stiff or too floppy
  • weak arms or legs
  • clumsy or fidgety movements
  • random movements
  • walking on tiptoes
  • plus, other challenges that health visitors or your GP can advise on

The complexity of symptoms can vary significantly – some people may be severely disabled, others may only have minor challenges. And because every person with cerebral palsy is unique, we have therapies to help every individual unlock their potential.

What help is available?

While there isn’t a cure, there are things that we can do to relieve some of the symptoms associated with cerebral palsy. Bobath Therapy is a clinical approach to supporting each person we treat. And, because every person with cerebral palsy is unique, our specialised therapists work together to create therapy plans focused to help every individual unlock their unique potential. For parents, it can be encouraging to see your child, become more independent, stay healthy and participate in life.

Our therapy options

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