Cerebral palsy is a general term for various disorders resulting from brain damage that occurs before, during, or shortly after birth.
It may cause severe crippling and mental retardation, or the symptoms may be so mild that they hardly interfere with the patient's activities. All cerebral palsy victims have at least some loss of voluntary muscle control.

What causes cerebral palsy?

The type of brain damage that can produce cerebral palsy may result from disease, faulty growth, or injury. One or more of these causes may occur before, during, or shortly after birth.
In many instances, a specific cause is never found.
Cerebral palsy cannot be inherited.
Before birth, brain damage may result from a disease of the mother. For example, German measles can severely harm an unborn child, even though the mother may have had only mild symptoms or none at all during pregnancy.
Faulty growth of the child's brain may occur if the mother is severely malnourished during pregnancy. Brain damage occurs in some cases of premature birth.
During the birth process, brain damage may result from a difficult delivery, in which there is direct damage to the baby's head and brain.
Some events during birth can lead to a lack of oxygen in the brain. Brain cells die if they do not have oxygen—even for a few minutes—and the body can never replace them. Problems during birth can also cause tearing in parts of the baby's brain.
After birth, a baby may develop cerebral palsy if disease or injury damages the brain.
During the first year of life, infections and accidental dropping of the child are the most frequent causes of the condition.
In some cases, child beating has caused cerebral palsy.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy

Some of the more common symptoms of cerebral palsy are lack of balance, clumsy walk, unclear speech, shaking, jerking movements, and convulsions.
In some persons with cerebral palsy, there is also mental retardation, learning disability, and/or severe hearing and sight problems.
Symptoms of cerebral palsy are sometimes apparent at birth. However, in most cases, a definitive diagnosis of cerebral palsy may not be made until the child is between one and two years old.

Cerebral palsy treatment

Since cerebral palsy is a permanent, non-progressive brain disorder, there is no cure. Therefore, treatment for the condition is aimed at helping the victim make best use of his or her physical and mental abilities. The degree of success in the treatment of cerebral palsy is largely dependent upon the extent of brain damage involved.
In general, treatment for cerebral palsy usually includes physiotherapy, speech therapy, medications, surgery, biofeedback, and special education.
Psychological support is also very important in helping people with cerebral palsy and their families.
For many people with cerebral palsy, a physician may prescribe braces and other devices that provide support and can also aid in walking.