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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a chronic, lifelong condition that:
Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability in children in the United States and the world. Although it can’t be reversed, children with CP can lead rich, fulfilling lives with the appropriate medical and surgical management, as well as family support and specialized therapies.
The cause of cerebral palsy is a brain injury or brain malformation that occurs while the brain is developing—at any time from conception to approximately two to three years of life. As a result, a child’s muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance can be affected and cause abnormal tone, uncoordinated movements and postures.
In many cases, however, no exact cause can be found.
Although CP often emerges without a specific cause, certain risk factors have been linked to the disorder. They include:
There are many ways to classify cerebral palsy. The most commonly defined types are spastic, dyskinetic and mixed cerebral palsy.
The signs of cerebral palsy differ from child to child and may change over time. Signs of the condition may include:
Babies with CP are often slow to reach developmental milestones, such as learning to roll over, sit, crawl or walk.
Children with CP may also have additional problems, including:
Our care team will consult with you and your child’s pediatrician and make referrals to any number of subspecialists at Boston Children’s Hospital that the team identifies as being potentially helpful to your child.
If your child has symptoms of CP, it is critical to get a diagnosis early in childhood. Most often, children receive a cerebral palsy diagnosis between ages two and three. Cerebral palsy evaluation at Boston Children’s provides accurate, objective information that enables doctors to anticipate complications before they develop. Addressing symptoms of CP in early childhood, before development peaks, can have a tremendous impact on your child’s treatment outcomes.
Tests to diagnose cerebral palsy may include:
Other tests that may be performed to better understand your child’s condition include:
Patients with complex motor skills issues may be referred to the state-of-the-art Gait Laboratory at nearby Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
Learn more about cerebral palsy evaluation at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition that requires ongoing management that often changes as your child grows older. Our goal is to help your child achieve the most function, independence and comfort possible. Treatment is focused on managing the disorder, specifically:
Boston Children’s Hospital’s dedicated team of cerebral palsy physicians understands that no two children with the condition are alike. Our team provides individualized and comprehensive cerebral palsy treatment plans that are as unique as your child. Meet our cerebral palsy team.
Addressing symptoms of CP in early childhood is extremely important to maximizing muscle control, independence and comfort as your child continues to develop. Our team of experts, working in many specialties, will create an integrated care plan, tailored to your child’s needs. As your child changes and grows, the treatment plan will change, too.
Your child’s treatment plan may include medical (non-surgical) therapies, such as medicines, muscle injections, casting and physical therapy.
Some of our patients benefit from surgical procedures to improve their mobility and comfort. Orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, neurosurgeons, complex care physicians, physiatrists and other specialists will consult with you to make collaborative decisions about your child’s care.
Your child’s treatment plan may include:
Learn more about cerebral palsy treatment at Boston Children’s.
For an appointment, more information or to obtain a second opinion for your child, please call us at 617-355-6021 or request an appointment online.
For families residing outside of the United States, please call Boston Children's International Health Services at +1-617-355-5209.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”