Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Cerebral palsy: not always what it seems
  1. R Gupta,
  2. R E Appleton
  1. The Roald Dahl EEG Unit, Department of Neurology, Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Eaton Road, Liverpool L12 2AP, UK
  1. Dr AppletonRichard.Appleton{at}RLCH-TR.NWEST.NHS.UK

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term that defines a group of non-progressive, but often changing, syndromes of motor impairment secondary to lesions or anomalies of the brain arising in the early stages of its development.1 ,2 The characteristic clinical feature that is common to all CP syndromes is the presence of pyramidal or extrapyramidal signs. CP is neither a specific disease nor a pathological or aetiological entity, and importantly the term CP does not—and should not—necessarily imply or identify a specific cause. The prevalence of CP ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 per 1000 live births, with the risk highest among very preterm and low birthweight babies. However, the majority of children with CP are born at or near term gestation. Causes of CP include perinatal hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy, intra- or periventricular haemorrhage, cerebral dysgenesis, and intracranial infection. The CP syndromes may be classified by the predominant type of motor disturbance, including, for example, diplegia, tetraplegia, hemiplegia, dyskinesia, and ataxia, although frequently the overall clinical picture is not always pure. Finally, the aetiologies for these different syndromes tend to be quite distinct.

Once a diagnosis of CP has been made on the basis of the child's symptoms and signs, each child should undergo appropriate evaluation and investigation to try and establish a cause and specifically to determine whether it is of prenatal, perinatal, or postnatal origin. Investigation is indicated even when there has been evidence of a preceding neurological event during the perinatal period or infancy, because some of these children may have an underlying neurological or metabolic disorder which may have made them more vulnerable to the stresses of delivery and extrauterine life. Finally, it is important that all children with a diagnosis of CP should be followed up, and when no obvious cause has been identified or …

View Full Text