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CEREBRAL PALSY: SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Victor Lewin - Wednesday, November 02, 2016

This Blog is the third in a series of posts on Cerebral Palsy (CP) and its relation to medical malpractice. To obtain more information on CP, please reference our previous blog posts.

Please do not hesitate to call Wagners if you have further questions about medical malpractice and CP and would like to consult with a lawyer. Wagners has extensive experience in medical malpractice and complex litigation, and has represented clients throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI. Wagners has been successful in many birth trauma cases, and has obtained for its clients the much needed and lifelong financial support for families with children of CP.

Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Signs and symptoms of CP vary between individuals. Symptoms may include poor coordination, stiff and weak muscles and tremors. While CP is a disorder of movement, individuals with CP may also have problems with sensation, vision, hearing, swallowing, behavior, and speaking, which further impacts communication, behavior and intellectual capacity.

Overall, CP symptomatology is very diverse. The classical symptoms of CP are spasticity, other involuntary movements, unsteady gait, balance problems, and/or decreased muscle mass.

Associated disorders include intellectual disabilities, seizures, muscle contractures, abnormal gait, osteoporosis, communication disorders, malnutrition, sleep disorders, and mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.[1]

Babies born with severe CP often have an irregular posture, with their bodies being either very floppy or very stiff. Other birth defects, such as spinal curvature, a small head, or a small jawbone, may also coincide with CP.

Some babies born with CP do not show obvious signs right away, and symptoms may appear or change as a child gets older. Often, CP becomes evident when the baby reaches the developmental stage of 6 to 9 months and is starting to mobilize. The baby may display preferential use of limbs, asymmetry, or gross motor developmental delay. Often babies with CP do not roll over, sit, crawl, or walk as early as other children their age.

The full intellectual potential and the extent of disability of a child born with CP will often not be known until the child starts school and is contrasted with their peers.


[1] Jones, KB; Wilson, B; Weedon, D; Bilder, D (December 2015). "Care of Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Cerebral Palsy.". FP essentials. 439: 26–30.

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