Cerebral palsy is a serious birth injury that occurs if the oxygen supply to your baby’s brain becomes temporarily disrupted during childbirth.
The Birth Injury Help Center reports that, by definition, cerebral palsy is a brain injury; hence the word cerebral. The word palsy refers to the incapacity or paralysis of various parts of your baby’s body that cerebral palsy can cause.
The health care community recognizes the following four types of cerebral palsy:
- Spastic, which causes debilitating muscle stiffness resulting in great difficulty moving or even paralysis; the three subtypes of spastic cerebral palsy include diplegia, affecting the legs and lower body; hemiplegia, affecting either the right or left side of the body; and quadriplegia, affecting all four limbs, as well as the face.
- Dyskinetic, which causes sudden involuntary movements as muscles switch back and forth between overly stiff and overly loose
- Ataxic, which causes a significant lack of coordination and balance
- Mixed, consisting of two or more of the above types
Early symptoms that your child has cerebral palsy can include the following:
- Tremors or involuntary movements
- Lack of muscle coordination
- Stiff feel to the arms or legs
- Inability to lift or control the head
- Inability to roll over without help
- Variation in muscle tone from one part of the body to another
As children get older, they may also experience speech or learning difficulties.
Keep in mind that while there is no cure for the brain damage caused by cerebral palsy, neither is it a progressive condition. In other words, cerebral palsy does not get worse over time.