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Symptoms of cerebral palsy usually appear by the time a child is 2 years old.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy usually appear by the time a child is 2 years old.
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Cerebral palsy symptoms

Cerebral palsy causes a range of symptoms. The most common ones are:

  • muscle stiffness
  • muscle weakness
  • uncontrolled body movements
  • problems with balance and coordination
  • problems with swallow and eating.

These symptoms can be mild, or that can be severe. They usually appear in a child’s first 2 years of life.

Types of cerebral palsy

There are four main types of cerebral palsy:

  • Spastic, in which the muscles are weak and stiff and movements are awkward. Either or both arms or legs may be affected, on the same side of the body or different.
  • Dyskinetic (athetoid), in which the muscles move uncontrollably or cause involuntary postures. This is caused by the muscles of the arms, legs and body contracting and relaxing. If muscles of the face and tongue are affected, talking is difficult and the child may drool.
  • Ataxic, in which movements appear jerky and clumsy due to problems with balance and coordination. It can lead to an unsteady gait and difficulty with rapid movement. People with ataxic cerebral palsy may also experience involuntary shaking of the hands.
  • Mixed, in which the person shows a range of the above characteristics.

People with cerebral palsy may or may not have other conditions such as intellectual disability, epilepsy, delayed growth, spinal deformities, and troubles with seeing, hearing and speaking.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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