About Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term for a group of motor disorders caused by damage to the immature or developing brain that occurs before, during or after birth. Due to the diverse nature of cerebral palsy, it is often described as a group of disorders the cerebral palsies.

There are an estimated 30,000 children and young people in the UK with cerebral palsies. The conditions are the most common physical disabilities in childhood and can affect those from all social backgrounds and social groups. 

The cerebral palsies primarily affect motor function but can also encompass a number of neurological disorders which can affect all aspects of development in the growing child.

The cerebral palsies should not be considered as just a physical disability. The unique nature of the conditions in which aspects are inter-related and impact on each other, requires a global approach bridging both health and education.  

How cerebral palsy affects each person will be unique. However the damage to the central nervous system (our brain and nervous system) can cause the following effects: 

  • Impaired transmission of information from our sensory systems including touch, vision, hearing, smell, taste, balance and co-ordination leading to hypo or hyper sensitivity and/or modulation problems. 

  • Retained primitive reflexes such as asymmetric tonic neck reflexes, Moro, startle, primitive stepping. 

  • Abnormalities of muscle tone: stiff, floppy, rigid or fluctuating

  • Delayed or disturbed righting and balance reactions.

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. 

  • Short and long-term memory deficits. 

  • Visual spatial and navigation dysfunctions. 

In turn, these issues my affect: 


  • Cognition resulting in learning difficulties and language/communication impairment, either as a result of low cognitive functioning and/or as a result of restricted access to the learning experiences of normally developing infants and young children. 

  • The physical structures of vision, hearing, and speech and language and/or the processing of information from these functions. 

  • Sensory and perceptual processing which can lead to difficulties with motor planning and organisational skills. 

  • Health and well -being, eating and drinking, nutrition, digestion, respiration, epilepsy and other medical disorders. 

  • Emotional and social development, mental health.