Cerebral palsy (CP) describes a group of permanent disorders of the development of movement and posture, causing activity limitation.These disorders are attributed to nonprogressive disturbances that occurred in the developing fetal or infant brain. The motor disorders of CP are often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, perception, cognition, communication, and behaviour, by epilepsy and by secondary musculoskeletal problems.1 This definition highlights the complexity of CP and the fact that it is not a single disorder, but a group of disorders with different causes.
Cerebral palsy is the most common cause of physical
disability in childhood. While some children have only
a motor disorder, others have a range of problems and
associated health issues.
This article describes the known causes of cerebral palsy,
the classification of motor disorders and associated
disabilities, health maintenance, and the consequences
of the motor disorder. The importance of multidisciplinary
assessment and treatment in enabling children to achieve
their optimal potential and independence is highlighted.
General practitioners play an important role in the
management of children with cerebral palsy. Disability is a
life-long problem which impacts on the child, their parents
and their siblings. After transition to adult services, the
GP may be the only health professional that has known the
young person over an extended period, providing important
continuity of care.
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