Although cerebral palsy describes a broad range of muscle impairments, the actual cause of the disability originates in the brain. The brain damage that causes the symptoms of cerebral palsy happens from brain injury during the early development of the brain, usually before, during, or soon after birth. It is also possible for accidents, abuse, medical malpractice, negligence, viral or bacterial infections to cause brain injuries that lead to cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy adversely affects an individual’s ability to maintain control of a wide range of body movements. These include the ability to coordinate muscles to achieve smooth, natural actions; struggles with abnormal muscle tone from too tense (hypertonic) muscles to overly weak (hypotonic) muscles; and damage to reflexes, posture and balance. Cerebral palsy can also impair fine motor skills and the muscles that control speech.

It is important to remember that cerebral palsy is almost never life-threatening, with the exception of very severe cases in infants. Cerebral palsy is also non-degenerative; the disability, although permanent, will not get any worse. Although there is no cure at this time, there are treatments and therapies which can help the individual with cerebral palsy manage with his disability to live a productive and meaningful life.

Every case of cerebral palsy is unique, and the range of severity is wide. While one person may have complete paralysis and the need of continuous care, another can experience only partial impairment with mild tremors and require almost no external assistance.

Since the brain does not heal after it suffers damage, cerebral palsy is permanent, non-curable and chronic. However, because there are treatments, therapies, surgeries, medications and assistive technologies available with more advances every day, individuals with cerebral palsy can expect to live stable, often independent, lives of high quality.