picture of Michael with Sol Campbell
Michael has spastic hemiplegia. He plays football for the England Cerebral Palsy football team.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is an ‘umbrella’ term used to describe a group of chronic movement or postural disorders. "Cerebral" refers to the brain and "palsy" refers to a physical disorder.  Cerebral palsy is caused by faulty development of or damage to motor areas in the brain, causing disruption of the brain's ability to control movement and posture.
Cerebral palsy affects approximately one in four hundred children and no two children are the same.  A diagnosis of "Cerebral Palsy" covers a wide range of disability.  The movement problems vary from barely noticeable to extremely severe.
The three main types of cerebral palsy correspond to injuries to different parts of the brain:

  • Children with spastic cerebral palsy have increased muscle tone causing ‘stiff’ muscles.  Because the stiffness is caused by problems in the brain, it tends to increase with effort or excitement. Children with spastic cp need physiotherapy to help stop their joints and muscles becoming stiff or ‘contracted’.
  • Children with athetoid cerebral palsy have difficulty controlling their muscles and posture.  The limbs affected by athetoid cp often make unwanted movements. Children with athetoid cp need physiotherapy to help improve their balance, symmetry and control of movement.
  • Children with ataxic cerebral palsy usually have problems with balance and the control and selectivity of movements.  Physiotherapy can help children with ataxic cp improve the quality of their movements

Cerebral palsy can also be classified by the parts of the body affected:

  • Children with quadriplegia have movement difficulties with all their limbs.
  • Children with hemiplegia have problems with the movement of one side of their bodies.
  • Children with diplegia have difficulties with the movements in their legs.  Often they also have difficulty with fine, dextrous movements of their hands.
  • Children with monoplegia have problems with just one limb.

Many children with CP are hardly affected, others have problems walking, feeding or talking.  Some children manage all activities independently, whilst others are unable to sit up without support and need help with all aspects of daily living.  Sometimes other parts of the brain are also affected, resulting in sight, hearing, perception, learning difficulties and epilepsy.

How can KidsPhysio help?

Ryan has spastic quadriplegia. He is practicing holding his head up when sitting.
Ryan has spastic quadriplegia. He is practicing holding his head up when sitting.

It has been shown that physiotherapy from an early age can help babies with cerebral palsy to learn the correct ways to move, maximising their abilities and preventing deformities and contractures.
Unfortunately many health authorities have a waiting list for paediatric physiotherapy and babies have to wait a long time for treatment.  KidsPhysio can offer early intervention.  It may be that you need a couple of physiotherapy sessions to advise on activities to help your child until they are seen by the NHS physiotherapists, or you may prefer regular treatment.  Some families have extra private physiotherapy to supplement the treatment offered by their NHS Physiotherapist, for example, when children need more exercises during growth spurts. KidsPhysio work closely with local NHS Physiotherapists to ensure that our treatments work together to help your child.
Your KidsPhysio therapist will base much of the treatment on the Bobath (neurodevelopmental) principles, but will adopt an eclectic approach to meet your child’s individual needs.


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