The specific effects of cerebral palsy (CP) on a person depend on its type and severity, the level of mental impairment, and whether other health problems are present or other complications develop.
Other health problems
Health problems that may occur along with CP include:
Seizures. Many people with
cerebral palsy have seizures, most commonly people with spastic hemiplegic
CP (in which the arm and leg on the same side of the body are
affected) and total body CP. Children with CP usually have their
first seizure between the ages of 2 and 6 years.
Vision problems. People with cerebral palsy commonly have
vision problems stemming from problems with the muscles that control their eye
movements. The vision problems include
amblyopia, and being nearsighted.
Hearing loss. Hearing problems are common with cerebral palsy.
They are more likely to occur in people whose CP was caused by viral infection
rubella) before birth or in people who have dyskinetic CP.
Speech problems. Some people with cerebral palsy may have
difficulty speaking because of problems moving their tongues and vocal cords.
They also may have problems expressing themselves with words and/or have
Intellectual disability. This occurs in some people who have CP. It is most common
in people who have total body CP, which affects the entire body to
some degree, or in people who also have seizures. Sometimes the disability has a greater impact on a person's life than cerebral palsy. Mild
degrees of intellectual disability or learning disabilities may be detected in
individuals before the cerebral palsy is noticed.
Complications can also occur with
CP, such as:
Joint problems. Permanently stiff joints
(contractures) and dislocated hips may develop. In addition, some preteens,
teens, and young adults develop abnormal curves in the spine (scoliosis).
Bowel and bladder problems. Stools may become hard
and difficult to pass and may cause pain. Bladder problems may lead to
bed-wetting or daytime incontinence.
Choking. People with CP may cough, gag, and choke
when eating. They may inhale food into their lungs, which can cause pneumonia.
People with total body cerebral palsy are most prone to gagging and
Acid reflux (GERD). Stomach acid washing back into
the esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or
GERD) can cause pain, irritation, and bleeding.
Slowed growth. Growth problems may be caused by poor
nutrition or by damage to certain parts of the brain: babies with CP may not
gain weight at the same rate as other babies their age, young children with CP
may be shorter than average, teens' sexual development may be slower than
normal. Other growth problems may also occur, such as muscles tightening around
the long bones of a leg. This can result in one shorter leg, which makes walking
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.