What Is Cerebral Palsy 

Cerebral Palsy is a group of disorders that impact movement, muscle tone or posture. CP is caused by damage that occurs to the developing brain, often before or at birth.  

The most common signs or symptoms are:

  • Impaired movement 
  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Floppiness 
  • Spasticity 
  • Unusual posture
  • Involuntary movements
  • Unsteady walking
  • Problems swallowing
  • Eye muscle imbalance
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Or any combination of these symptoms

Signs of CP become evident during infancy or as late as pre-school years. 

The cause of CP and the impact on function can vary greatly.

Cerebral Palsy has no cure, although treatments can improve function.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is caused by damage to the developing brain. Typically, this happens before a child is born, however it can occur at birth or in early infancy.  It’s possible for the cause to be unknown. 

Some of the common factors in brain damage or abnormal development are: 

  • Genetic disorders
  • Maternal infections that impact the developing fetus
  • Fetal stroke
  • Infant infections that cause inflammation in or around the brain
  • Traumatic head injury to an infant
  • Lack of oxygen to the brain related to difficult labor or delivery

Types of CP

A diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Doctors classify Cerebral Palsy by the main type of movement disorder involved. There are four main types of CP:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

The most common type is spastic CP, which affects approximately 80% of people with CP.

People with spastic Cerebral Palsy have stiff muscles, resulting in awkward movements. Within Spastic Cerebral Palsy, there are four types:

  • Spastic diplegia/diparesis: in this type, muscle stiffness is mainly in the legs, with the arms less affected or not affected at all. 
  • Spastic hemiplegia/hemiparesis: This type affects only one side of the body; usually the arm is more affected than the leg.
  • Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis: This is the most severe form of spastic CP and affects all four limbs, the trunk, and the face. 
  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy: This impacts their hands, making it difficult for them to control movement of their hands, arms, feet and legs. 

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Those with ataxic CP have problems with balance and coordination. 

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Some people have symptoms of more than one type of CP. The most common type of mixed CP is spastic-dyskinetic CP.

Cerebral Palsy Symptoms or Signs

A Baby Younger Than Six Months: 

  • The baby’s head lags when you pick them up while lying on their back
  • They feel stiff
  • They feel floppy
  • When held cradled in your arms, they seem to overextend their back and neck, acting as if they are pushing away from you
  • When you pick them up, their legs get stiff and they cross or scissor

A Baby Older Than Six Months:

  • They don’t roll over in either direction
  • They cannot bring their hands together
  • They have difficulty bringing their hands to their mouth
  • They reach out with only one hand while keeping the other fisted

A Baby Older Than 10 Months:

  • When crawling, they push off with one hand and leg while dragging the opposite hand and leg
  • They scoots around on their bottom or hop on their knees, but don’t crawl on all fours

Screening and Diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy

Diagnosing CP at an early age is important. The diagnosis process can include multiple steps: 

Developmental Monitoring

Developmental monitoring or surveillance simply means tracking the growth and development of the child over time. If there are concerns about the development of missed milestones, the next step would be a Developmental Screen Test. This test should be administered as soon as possible. 

Developmental Screening Test

During developmental screening it is determined if there are developmental delays, like motor or movement delays. If there is anything of concern in this phase, the child would be referred for Developmental and Medical Evaluations. 

Developmental and Medical Evaluations

At this stage, the tests will diagnose the specific type of disorder affecting the child.


There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy. However, treatment can improve the lives of the affected children. Beginning treatment as early as possible is important to get maximum benefit. 

After diagnosis, a team of health professionals work with the child and family to develop an action plan. The goal is to help the child reach their full potential. 

Common Cerebral Palsy treatments include:

  • Medicines
  • Surgery
  • Braces
  • Physical therapy 
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy. 

The treatments and their effectiveness vary based on the child and their particular symptoms. 

Walking With CP

Trexo Robotics offers a Gait Training System or walking device that helps children with a Cerebral Palsy diagnosis, walk. The benefits of this device vary based on the child. It is universally accepted that walking is good for the body and too much time spent sitting is not. Using the Trexo to get your child walking over-the-ground. 

We do an in-take process to assess the child and determine if the device is a viable solution for that particular child. We offer a quiz to help determine if your child is a good candidate. 

In some cases a clinic that provides physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy may have a Trexo Plus that your child can use as part of their physical therapy. You can look at your Clinics page to see if there is one by you.