What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral Palsy is a life-long condition that causes impaired motor function, affects body movement, muscle control, and muscle tone, as well as reflexes, posture, and balance.


How common is CP?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of physical disability in children, affecting one in 400 children.


What are the known causes of CP?

Cerebral Palsy is caused by brain injury – usually a stroke – prior to birth, during labour and delivery, or in early infancy. CP can also be caused by a brain malformation. Current thinking, shaped by a landmark study by Kids Brain Health Network researchers, is that close to 30 of cases of CP are caused by genetic vulnerability. Other known risk factors include prematurity, infection and inflammation, carrying more than one fetus during pregnancy, and atypical uterine growth.


How can I tell if a child has CP?

Currently there is no test for CP. Most children are diagnosed in the first two years of life, while a child with very severe symptoms may be identified soon after birth. Mild CP is usually not detected until age three to five.

Early symptoms may include:

  • Low muscle tone
  • Primarily using one side of their body more than the other
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Poor muscle control
  • Delayed development, such as not walking by 12-18 months


What should I do if I suspect something is wrong with my child?

Don’t wait–talk to your doctor about getting your child screened for cerebral palsy. Recent  research shows that children in early infancy may show signs of CP, so recognizing early signs and knowing developmental milestones is important. Early intervention can change outcomes.


Our Focus in Cerebral Palsy

KBHN researchers are investigating the causes of CP as well as promising interventions to improve quality of life.

  • Prevention and Regeneration in CP
  • Epigenetics of CP in Preterm Infants
  • Improving Fitness and Social Opportunities for Teens with CP
  • What Makes Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy Work
  • Neurorecovery
  • National CP Registry
  • CP Genetics
  • Robot-assisted physical therapy


How can I participate in KBHN research?

If you are interested in learning more about our research projects and/or participating in research, visit our Participate page to learn more.