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What are the symptoms of CP?

CP can affect cognitive, motor, visual, sensory, speech, coordination, and autonomic functions.  Below are the some of the most commonly associated deficits associated with cerebral palsy.

Most frequently encountered deficits related to cerebral palsy

Cognitive – The area of the brain injured can cause varying symptoms.  For example, if the frontal lobe suffers damage, the child can suffer problems with concentration, impulsivity, planning, and inhibition.

Motor – If the infant suffers injury to the upper motor neuron system (UMNS), it can affect the neurons that send signals from the brain to the body.  This can result in paralysis of specific body parts, spasticity or rigidness, lack of tone, problems with balance, or involuntary movements.

Visual – CP can damage the occipital lobe, causing difficulty with sight, and image recognition and perception.

Sensory – Damage in the temporal lobe can cause memory problems.  Damage to the olfactory bulbs can cause problems with smell.  In addition, damage to the parietal lobe can cause problems with proprioception (awareness of how your limbs are oriented in space), reading, and interpreting sensation.

Speech – Speech is controlled by many different areas of the brain including the Broca’s Area and Wernicke’s area as well as other areas of the brain that affect higher level functioning and motor areas that control the movement of the mouth and tongue.

Coordination – Damage to the cerebellum can affect balance and coordination.

Autonomic – Damage to the brain stem can cause problems with the autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate and respiration.

Specifically, common symptoms of CP include:

  • Spasticity (stiff or tight muscles)
  • Ataxia (lack of muscle coordination)
  • Variations in muscle tone
  • Drooling or difficulty speaking
  • Tremors (shaking)
  • Walking with foot/leg dragging
  • Problems with precise motions

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