Cerebral Palsy

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability of childhood. The term CP itself refers to a group of disorders that affect muscle tone, posture and movement as a result of damage to an infant's developing brain. Though the damage doesn't progress, its clinical expression and symptoms change over time with growth and development.

Children with CP often have one or more associated neurologic conditions, including learning disabilities and developmental delays, epilepsy, problems with vision or hearing, and challenges with speech and communication. Often, there can be additional medical concerns such as feeding and nutritional difficulties, drooling, and respiratory symptoms. Although CP is a lifelong condition that can't be reversed, children with the diagnosis can lead rich, fulfilling lives with proper medical and surgical management as needed.

How we care for cerebral palsy

Because CP is an umbrella term that can refer to several different types of brain injury, it's important to seek treatment from experts from many different disciplines who understand:

  • a child's symptoms of CP might not match any given "textbook" example
  • many parts of a child's body may be affected by CP
  • how and why other medical conditions can occur alongside CP
  • the vital role of orthopedic support in helping kids with CP

The team of specialists in the Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity Center at Boston Children's Hospital provides interdisciplinary evaluation and treatment for children with CP and other neuromuscular conditions. We combine expertise in orthopedic surgery, complex care, neurology and neurosurgery, among several other specialties, to improve the functional capabilities of more than 2,000 patients of all ages every year.