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Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy


There are a range of tell-tale signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy that affect physical movement, speech, and brain function. The severity of cerebral palsy can vary as can their effects on the individual. Learn more about the symptoms associated with cerebral palsy by reading the sections below.

Cerebral palsy symptoms
The early symptoms of cerebral palsy are usually evident by the time the child reaches 18 months of age.

Early Warning Signs of Cerebral Palsy

The early symptoms of cerebral palsy are usually evident by the time the child reaches 18 months of age. The first signs of cerebral palsy include:

Delayed Development

There are a number of developmental benchmarks in the first year of an infant's life, including the ability to roll over, crawl, and walk. Other developmental problems include difficulty sucking and swallowing. Babies who suffer from cerebral palsy are typically slower to reach these milestones due to the effects of the condition. Some important developmental achievements include:

  • Ability to roll over: three to six months
  • Ability to babble: six to eight months
  • Ability to sit with support: eight to ten months
  • Ability to crawl: nine to 12 months
  • Ability to walk alone: 12 to 15 months
  • Ability to say a couple words other than dada and mama: 12 to 15 months
  • Ability to eat with fingers; hold bottle: 12 to 18 months
  • Ability to turn pages in books; remove shoes and socks: 24 to 30 months
  • Ability to walk up and down steps: 24 to 36 months

Abnormal Muscle Tone

Some children who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy display abnormal muscle tone. Decreased muscle tone can cause the baby to seem relaxed, or floppy, while increased muscle tone can make the baby appear rigid. Abnormal muscle tone can also include unusual posture and the tendency to favor one side of the body.

Other Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

There are a number of other signs of cerebral palsy. The magnitude of these effects depends on the severity of the brain damage associated with the condition.

Abnormal/Involuntary Movement

Individuals with cerebral palsy experience abnormal muscle control that can include involuntary, jerky, and slow movements. This can affect the individual's balance and ability to walk, and cause uncontrollable movement of the arms and hands. Many victims of cerebral palsy have difficulty swallowing, which can lead to problems when eating or drinking, and cause drooling. Some individuals with cerebral palsy also experience a lack of muscle control, causing bowel control problems.

Learning Disabilities

Some individuals with cerebral palsy experience difficulty learning how to do certain activities such as mathematics, drawing, and reading.

Speech Problems

Some individuals with cerebral palsy have difficulty controlling the muscles of the mouth, tongue, voice box, and palate. This can affect speech, as well as the ability to swallow.

Seizures

Seizures can be one of the more dangerous signs of cerebral palsy. About a third of individuals with cerebral palsy experience seizures. The seizures can appear early in life or years after the brain damage occurred.

Hearing Problems

A number of individuals with cerebral palsy suffer from partial hearing loss. To test for these effects, all individuals with cerebral palsy should undergo a hearing exam.

Vision Problems

The majority of individuals who suffer from cerebral palsy exhibit the symptoms of strabismus, the turning in or out of the eye. This is caused by weakness of the muscles in the eye and can lead to nearsightedness. If strabismus is not corrected, it can lead more severe vision problems.

Seek Medical and Legal Help if Your Child Exhibits the Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

If your child exhibits any of these signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy, he or she may have cerebral palsy or another birth injury. The effects of cerebral palsy last a lifetime, and it is important to seek medical and legal help. See a medical professional immediately for proper cerebral palsy diagnosis and cerebral palsy treatment information and then consult a cerebral palsy attorney to find out if you are eligible for financial entitlements.

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