Symptoms and Terms to Know
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
The symptoms of CP vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. CP does not get worse over time, but symptoms may change (get better or worse) as a child grows.
All people with CP have problems with movement and posture. Many also have related conditions such as intellectual disability, seizures, problems with vision, hearing, or speech, changes in the spine (such as scoliosis), or joint problems (such as contractures).
Symptoms range in severity depending on the degree of injury to the brain. There are many specific symptoms of CP, but every child is different in how they experience them.
A parent is often the first person to notice a child’s difficulty in walking, crawling, swallowing, or speaking. Other signs of cerebral palsy may be seizures or stiff or floppy muscle tone, involuntary movement, drooling, joint contractures, curvature of the spine, developmental dislocation of the hip (dysplasia), cognitive or visual impairment, and motor delay.
3D Movement/Gait Analysis is a state-of-the-art method “to scan” and precisely measure the movements of a person moving/walking. It uses modern video capture technology as well as force plates and electromyography equipment to measure the forces the body generates and the muscle activity during movements. The amount of oxygen a person uses during those movements can also be measured. This technology offers very accurate data for the understanding pathological movements and walking.
A “catch” is a joint movement like bending or stretching the knee or elbow that is blocked or prevented for an instant when the doctor or physical therapist is trying to examine the range of motion of that joint.
Posturing is term used to describe a fixed limb, neck, or trunk position.
Equinus Deformity is when the calf muscles and the Achilles tendons are shortened or tight, the foot is driven downwards. This means that when someone has an equinus deformity they will tend to walk on tip toes.
Hip Flexion Deformity is when the muscles that help lift up the hip (muscle iliopsoas) are shortened or tight. This prevents one from stretching the hips all the way when standing, walking, or lying down.
Psoas is a muscle located in the lower region of the spine that extends through the pelvis to the femur and helps us to lift up or flex our hips.
Movement disorders are abnormal movements that are the result of brain damage and noticed as the patient’s inability or difficulty to move their arms, legs, head, neck, and trunk in a purposeful way.
•Limiting functional ability - Walking, feeding, cleaning, writing, typing–
•Weight loss - Due to high energy expenditure (plus difficulty with feeding, decreased food intake, difficulty swallowing)
• Contractures –Seen with spasticity, not dystonia or choreoathetosis or ataxia
•Pain –Due to the effect on the musculoskeletal system, the movements themselves are not usually painful