Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Children who have cerebral palsy usually begin to see symptoms appear within the first few years of life. These symptoms may differ among children; however children who have cerebral palsy have varying degrees of physical disability. Some children have only mild impairments, while others are severely affected.

Some symptoms include:
  • Hypertonia, increased muscle tone causing person to be rigid or stiff, limited range of motion (spasticity)
  • Hypotonia- decreased muscle tone causing person to be very floppy (ataxia)
  • Gross and fine motor development is impaired, causing difficulty with hand movements, grasping, sitting, crawling, walking or dragging a leg or foot
  • May cause movements that are involuntary such as twitching, tremors or drooling
  • Difficulty with balance, posture, and head control
  • Difficulty with eating, feeding, and with swallowing problems
  • Difficulty with speech, hearing or vision
  • Easily or frequently startled
  • Slow overall development


Children who have cerebral palsy typically have other associated medical problems such as visual impairments/blindness, hearing loss, aspiration of food (the sucking of food or fluid into the lungs), gastro esophageal reflux (spitting up), speech difficulties, drooling, tooth decay, sleep disorders, osteoporosis, and behavior difficulties. The most common associated medical problems among children with severe cerebral palsy are seizures, speech and communication problems, and mental retardation. These severe needs require specific and ongoing therapy from a number of specialists.

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