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Health Information For Parents
Cerebral palsy (CP) affects muscle movement and control. People with cerebral palsy have it for life.
Ataxic CP is one type of cerebral palsy. Kids with ataxic cerebral palsy have trouble with balance. They may walk with their legs farther apart than other kids. And they can have trouble knowing exactly where something is. They might think it is closer or farther than it actually is.
Other types of cerebral palsy can lead to muscle stiffness (spastic CP) or writhing movements (dyskinetic CP). Some kids have more than one kind of CP. And sometimes, the type of cerebral palsy a child has can change over time.
Cerebral palsy is usually the result of a brain injury or problem. In ataxic CP, the brain injury or problem is in a part of the brain called the cerebellum. The cerebellum controls balance and coordinates movements.
A child might be born with CP or develop it later. The brain injury or problem doesn’t get worse, but someone with CP may have different needs over time.
Cerebral palsy can be caused by:
Premature babies (babies born early) are at higher risk for CP than babies born at full-term. So are low-birthweight babies (even if carried to term) and multiple births, such as twins and triplets.
Ataxia (ah-TAK-see-uh) means that someone has trouble coordinating muscles to do something. Kids with ataxic (ah-TAK-sik) cerebral palsy may walk with their feet spread apart, and their walk may look unbalanced or jerky. They might not be able to get their muscles to do other things too, like reach for a fork.
Kids with all types of CP can have vision, hearing, speech, eating, behavior, and learning problems. Some kids have seizures.
Most children with ataxic cerebral palsy are diagnosed in the first 2 years of life. If a baby is premature or has another health problem that can be associated with CP, this will alert health care providers to start looking for signs of CP.
No single test can diagnose ataxic CP. So health care professionals look at many things, including a child’s:
Testing may include:
There is no cure for cerebral palsy. The health care team works with the child and family to make a treatment plan. The health care team includes a:
The treatment plan may include:
Taking care of a child with cerebral palsy can feel overwhelming at times. Not only do kids with CP need a lot of attention at home, they also need to go to many medical appointments and therapies. Don’t be afraid to say yes when someone asks, “Can I help?” Your family and friends really do want to be there for you.
To feel less alone and to connect with others who are facing the same challenges, find a local or online support group. You also can get information and support from CP organizations, such as:
Staying strong and healthy is not only good for you, but also for your child and your whole family.
Living with cerebral palsy is different for every child. To help your child move and learn as much as possible, work closely with your care team to develop a treatment plan. Then, as your child grows and his or her needs change, adjust the plan as necessary.
These guides can help as you plan for each stage of childhood and early adulthood:
Cerebral palsy (CP) affects a child’s muscle tone, movement, and more. This article explains causes, diagnosis, treatment, and coping.
Cerebral palsy is one of the most common developmental disabilities in the United States. It affects a person’s ability to move and coordinate body movements.
Learn all about cerebral palsy (CP), one of the most common congenital disorders of childhood. Help your child or teen manage the condition, and find the help and services that kids with CP are entitled to.
If your child has cerebral palsy, there’s a lot to know. This checklist makes it easy to find out what programs and services may be available to you.
If you have a school-age child with cerebral palsy, there’s a lot to know. This checklist makes it easy to find out what programs and services may be available to you.
If your teen has cerebral palsy, there’s a lot to know. This checklist makes it easy to determine what programs and services might be needed as your teen nears adulthood.
What teachers should know about cerebral palsy, and teaching strategies to help students with CP succeed in school.
Are you raising a child with cerebral palsy? This guide offers advice, resources, and support so that you can help your child reach his or her full potential.
Ira has cerebral palsy (CP), but it doesn’t interfere with his love of sports or his dream of being a broadcaster. Check out this video.
Get advice from parents raising kids with cerebral palsy. Learn what works, what doesnât, and what helped these families the most.
Shannon has cerebral palsy, which limits many abilities. But her wheelchair and her communication device give her the freedom to explore, and a voice to be heard.
Kids with cerebral palsy often have trouble eating. But with the right diet and feeding techniques, they can get the nutrients needed to thrive.
Dyskinetic CP, or athetoid CP, is a type of CP. Kids with dyskinetic CP have trouble controlling muscle movement.
Kids with spastic CP have stiff muscles in the upper part of the body, the lower part, or both.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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