Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a group of problems that affect body movement and posture. It is related to a brain injury or to problems with brain development. It is one of the most common causes of lasting disability in children. Cerebral palsy causes reflex movements that a person can’t control and muscle tightness that may affect parts or all of the body. These problems can range from mild to severe. Intellectual disability, seizures, and vision and hearing problems can occur.


Cerebral palsy is caused by a brain injury or problem that occurs during pregnancy or birth or within the first 2 to 3 years of a child’s life. It can be caused by:

  • Problems from being born too early (premature birth).
  • Not getting enough blood, oxygen, or other nutrients before or during birth.
  • A serious head injury.
  • A serious infection that can affect the brain, such as meningitis.
  • Some problems passed from parent to child (genetic conditions) that affect brain development.


In many cases, the exact cause of cerebral palsy is not known.
Everyone with cerebral palsy has problems with body movement and posture. But the physical problems are worse for some people than for others.


Some people who have cerebral palsy have a slight limp or a hard time walking. Other people have little or no control over their arms and legs or other parts of the body, such as the mouth and tongue, which can cause problems with eating and speaking. People who have severe forms of cerebral palsy are more likely to have other problems, such as seizures or intellectual disability.


Babies with severe cerebral palsy often have problems with their posture. Their bodies may be either very floppy or very stiff. Birth defects sometimes occur along with cerebral palsy. Examples of birth defects include a spine that doesn’t have the normal shape, a small jawbone, or a small head.


The brain injury or problem that causes cerebral palsy doesn’t get worse over time. But new symptoms may appear, or symptoms may change or get worse as your child gets older. This is why some babies born with cerebral palsy don’t show clear signs of it right away.


Even though cerebral palsy can’t be cured, caregivers can do things to help deal with symptoms, prevent problems, and make the most of your child’s abilities. Occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy are the most important treatments. Medicines and surgery can also help.

How the Thusanani Childrens’ Foundation can help

  • Our occupational therapy is an important treatment that can begin soon after a child is diagnosed. Therapy may often continue throughout the child’s life. Our therapy intervention may begin before a definite diagnosis is made, depending on the child’s symptoms and if noted and reported by caregivers.
  • OT may also help prevent the need for surgery. Therapy focus may change after surgery or for problems that are new or getting worse. After surgery, specialized physiotherapy may be needed for 6 months or longer.
  • Many children who have CP benefit from using something to maintain or improve joint mobility, help strengthen muscles and relax overactive (spastic) muscles, and assist with daily activities. These devices and equipment may include special crutches, orthotics, casts, standers, special seats, walkers, wheelchairs, special shoes, and other methods to help with specific problems. A therapist will recommend when this is needed and make referrals to an appropriate professional and service provider.
  • The specific types of devices used depend on a child’s needs. For example, a child may get a cast after surgery or to restrict movement in one area to strengthen muscles and tendons in another part of the body. If both legs are affected by CP, a child can learn to move around with the help of a scooter board (a device used to self-propel while lying down), a modified stroller, a wheelchair, or other special equipment.
  • Our speech pathologist will aim to help control the child’s mouth muscles. This therapy can be of great help to children with speech or eating problems. Speech therapy intervention often starts before the child begins school and continues throughout the school years.
  • Our therapists may in some cases recommend a registered dietician can provide nutritional counselling when a child has problems eating or is not gaining weight.


Massage therapy may help to relax tense muscles, strengthen muscles, and keep joints flexible.