Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder (i.e. present from birth) that affects approximately half a million children and adults in the United States, and 17 million people worldwide. There is more than one type of cerebral palsy, and the causes of cerebral palsy vary. Spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, and mixed cerebral palsy can result from infections that mothers have while pregnant, low birth weight, jaundice, birth problems such as uterine rupture and issues with the placenta or umbilical cord, blood flow problems, and traumatic head injuries. In some instances, the cause of cerebral palsy is unknown.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy include lack of muscle coordination, shaky movements, stiff muscles, and drooling as a result of being unable to control facial muscles. In some but not all cases, cerebral palsy symptoms include intellectual disabilities such as a below-average IQ and developmental delays. Some people with cerebral palsy exhibit behaviors such as anxiety, mood swings, social withdrawal, and temper tantrums.
Many people with cerebral palsy require assistance to take care of themselves, move around, prepare meals, and to communicate. Though cerebral palsy is understood to be connected to difficulties within the brain, scientific researchers have yet to find a cure. Cerebral palsy is considered to be a permanent but non-progressive condition, meaning that the condition doesn’t worsen as a child grows up. Most people diagnosed with cerebral palsy live normal life spans.