reviewed 12/11/2018

Cerebral palsy: True or false?

Cerebral palsy affects the brain's ability to control the muscles. It's actually a group of disorders that cause problems with movement, balance and posture, Want to learn more? Take this quiz.

True or false: Cerebral palsy symptoms are always severe.

False. The symptoms of cerebral palsy can range from mild to severe. Someone with severe cerebral palsy might not be able to walk—or might need special equipment to walk. However, a person with mild cerebral palsy might simply walk a little awkwardly.

True or false: Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy.

True. About 80 percent of cerebral palsy cases are spastic cerebral palsy. People with spastic cerebral palsy have increased muscle tone, which means that their muscles are very stiff and can spasm. Children with spastic cerebral palsy often move with difficulty.

True or false: Babies can show signs of cerebral palsy before they reach 6 months of age.

True. A very young baby with cerebral palsy may feel stiff or floppy when picked up. The head may lag and the legs may cross. Most children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy by the time they turn 2 years old—and it is usually identified when a child doesn't meet certain developmental milestones, such as sitting, walking and standing.

True or false: There is no cure for cerebral palsy.

True. However, treatment can greatly improve the lives of people who have cerebral palsy. These treatments include physical, occupational and speech therapies; medications; surgery; and braces. Starting a treatment program as soon as possible is recommended.

True or false: A child with cerebral palsy will never live independently as an adult.

False. Children with cerebral palsy have the potential to live satisfying, challenging lives. Home modifications and assistive technology devices make it possible for a person with cerebral palsy to live on his or her own, depending on the severity of disability.

It isn't always clear what causes the brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy. However, there are certain risk factors. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about potential precautionary measures.

Preventing cerebral palsy

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; March of Dimes; United Cerebral Palsy

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