Cerebral Palsy

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral Palsy (C.P.) is defined as an injury or damage to the brain that occurs during pregnancy, delivery or soon after birth.

Cerebral palsy is a term used to refer to a set of neurological conditions that affect a child's coordination and movement. It starts at birth and affects children and then adults throughout their life.

What causes cerebral palsy?

Known possible causes of cerebral palsy include:

  • a premature or difficult birth
  • infection during early pregnancy
  • bleeding in the baby's brain
  • abnormal brain development in the womb

How does cerebral palsy affect people?

The condition is not progressive. This means it will not get worse as a child gets older. However, the effects of the damage may not be evident straight away. They may appear over time as the child grows and begins to use their developing skills.

The damage may result in difficulties with movement, speech, vision and learning. The extent of this will vary greatly from person to person, and will depend on the type of cerebral palsy you have. Each person is different and unique, and can experience a number of symptoms ranging from mild to more severe.

Children and adults with cerebral palsy often have other related conditions or problems, including:

  • learning difficulties
  • epilepsy
  • skeletal deformities
  • visual impairment
  • hearing impairment
  • difficulties speaking or understanding other people speak
  • growth delays
  • incontinence
  • orthopaedic problems

There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but a range of treatments can help relieve symptoms

Are there different types of cerebral palsy?

Yes, there are four main types:

Spastic - Tight muscles causing limitations of movement

Athetoid - Uncontrolled movements, also called Dyskinetic

Ataxic - Problems with balance and shaky movements

Mixed - A combination of the above types

Spastic cerebral palsy is further subdivided according to the areas of the body affected:

Quadriplegia - Where all four limbs and the trunk affected

Diplegia - Mainly the lower limbs are affected but also sometimes the upper limbs and trunk

Hemiplegia - Only one side of the body is affected

It is important to note that the right side of the brain affects the left side of the body and vice versa. Therefore damage to one side of the brain will produce problems on the opposite side of the body.

Why is a neurological physiotherapist needed?

Neurological physiotherapists are specialists and trained to understand the effects and interactions of cerebral palsy. The physiotherapist can identify where rehabilitation should be focused, and work on areas and problems that specifically affect the individual, using targeted physiotherapy.

The physiotherapist will first assess you to gain a base line of skills, and then advise you and those around you how best to help you overcome some of your difficulties.

If the individual with cerebral palsy is a child, he or she will need to see Physio Matter's physiotherapist who works specifically with children, called a paediatric specialist.

Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, we can aim to maximise your functional abilities and increase children and adults' independence and self-esteem.

The main aims of physiotherapy here are to:

  • maintain the length and flexibility of tight muscles
  • maintain range of movement (ROM) in underlying joints
  • strengthen the opposing muscles
  • encourage and facilitate individuals, whether adult or children, to achieve new developmental skills within the constraints of their condition

Change is possible

Each individual's postural (muscle) tone is changeable, not only in relation to activity and moods, but also in response to being handled.

It is more changeable in children who are still growing and developing, whereas adults tend to have a more established movement patterns as they have had the condition for longer. Adults tend to have musculoskeletal problems with joints and muscles.

Physiotherapy will encourage and increase an individual's ability to move and function in as normal a way as possible. More normal movements cannot be obtained if a child or adult only stays in a few positions and moves in a limited or disordered way. The aim of physiotherapy is to help change abnormal postures and movements so that a child or adult can more comfortably adapt to their environment and develop a better quality of functional skills.

It is also essential for family and carers to learn how to handle an individual with cerebral palsy, whether a child or adult, in the most helpful way for everyday activities when at home, school, work or elsewhere. Such consistent co-operation is vital to enable each person to reach their potential.

Physiotherapist will give you advice on the use of walking aids, splints, supports and home equipment to make your child's life much easier.

Our physiotherapist (for adults) or paediatric specialist physiotherapist (for children) will make an assessment and advise you on what type of physio support is needed, as well as help you consider other areas where support might be required. They can also advise about equipment to make a child or adult's life much easier at home, school, work or elsewhere, including the use of walking aids, splints, and supports.

Support for you, your family and carers

At Physio Matters, we understand that cerebral palsy can lead to feelings of frustration and reduced confidence for children, adults and those around them.

Through your specialist physiotherapy programme, we aim to help you, your family or carers cope successfully with cerebral palsy. We know how important it is to work with colleagues in other professions, such as speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and orthotists, in order to get the best outcome for children, adults and those around them.

We can also refer you, where appropriate, to NHS or other private services to obtain input from a range of health professionals which you or your child may need.


At Physio Matters we aim to make all our sessions as effective, enjoyable and engaging as possible. Having the same specialist physiotherapist in your home for each session builds up a close and unique relationship with both children and adults, as well as their family or carers. Together, we work on enabling people with cerebral palsy to lead as fulfilling and independent a life as possible.

More information

For more information, visit the following websites:

Contact us now:

0161 681 6887

Neurological Physiotherapy

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Home visits

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Brain Injuries

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Who we work with

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