Cerebral palsy: An abnormality of motor function (the ability to move and control movements) that is acquired at an early age, usually less than 1 year, and is due to a brain lesion that is nonprogressive. Abbreviated CP. CP is frequently the result of abnormalities that occur while a fetus is developing inside the womb. Such abnormalities may include accidents of brain development, genetic disorders, stroke due to abnormal blood vessels or blood clots, or infection of the brain. In rare instances, obstetrical accidents during particularly difficult deliveries can cause brain damage and result in CP. CP can take three forms: spastic, choreoathetoid, and hypotonic (flaccid). In spastic CP, there is an abnormality of muscle tone in which one or more extremities (arms or legs) are held in a rigid posture. Choreoathetoid CP is associated with abnormal, uncontrollable writhing movements of the arms and/or legs. A child with hypotonic CP appears floppy'like a rag doll. Treatment may include the use of casting and braces to prevent further loss of limb function, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, the use of augmentative communication devices, and the use of medications or botulism toxin (botox) injections to treat spasticity.
Reviewed on 5/13/2016