Pediatrics Book


Cerebral Palsy

Aka: Cerebral Palsy
  1. See Also
    1. Developmental Milestone
    2. Language Milestone Red Flags
    3. Muscle Weakness in Children (Pediatric Neuromuscular Disorders)
    4. Developmental Coordination Disorder (Clumsiness in Children)
    5. Developmental Red Flags
  2. Definitions
    1. Cerebral Palsy
      1. Non-progressive, permanent Developmental Disorder of childhood due to brain injury or malformation
      2. Results in impaired Muscle coordination and movement
  3. Epidemiology
    1. Incidence: Up to 2.5 per 1000 U.S. born children
      1. Most common physical Disability in children
  4. Pathophysiology
    1. Brain injury occurring before age 3 to 5 years
    2. Results in non-progressive disorder of movement and Posture
    3. Wide variability in disease involvement and in degree of intellectual capacity
  5. Causes
    1. Idiopathic in 25% of cases (up to 80% in some reviews)
    2. Prenatal causes or risk factors: Up to 80-90% of cases
      1. Delivery complications (i.e. asphyxia): 6% of cases
      2. Preterm birth before 32 weeks or <2500 grams
      3. Intrauterine Growth Retardation
      4. Intracranial Hemorrhage
      5. Teratogen Exposure
      6. Perinatal infection (Chorioamnionitis)
      7. Multiple Gestation
    3. Postnatal causes or risk factors (<8 to 20%)
      1. CNS Infection
      2. Head Trauma
      3. Hyperbilirubinemia
  6. Types
    1. Limb spasticity (80% of cases)
      1. Features
        1. Hypertonic Muscle movement
        2. Hyperreflexia
        3. Scissors gait
        4. Toe-walking
      2. Motor Impairment Categories
        1. Diplegia
        2. Hemiplegia
        3. Quadriplegia
    2. Dyskinesia (10-20% of cases)
      1. Slow, writhing, uncontrollable limb movements worse during stress
    3. Ataxic Cerebral Palsy (5-10% of cases)
      1. Wide-based gait
      2. Intention Tremor
    4. Mixed Cerebral Palsy
      1. Combination or other features
  7. Associated Conditions
    1. Coordination and Movement Disorder
      1. Features vary depending on Cerebral Palsy type (see above)
      2. Typically limb spasticity, Dyskinesia or Ataxia
    2. Sensory deficits
      1. Altered sensory Perception (pain on light touch)
    3. Chronic Pain (75%)
    4. Cognitive Impairment (50-66% of cases)
    5. Seizure Disorder (25 to 50-66% of cases, often spastic type)
    6. Inability to walk (33%)
    7. Inability to speak (25%)
    8. Growth Delay
    9. Hearing Impairment
    10. Vision Impairment
      1. Screen for Strabismus and hemianopia
    11. Gastrointestinal disorders
      1. Vomiting (Delayed Gastric Emptying)
      2. Constipation (GI motility, Dehydration, mobility)
      3. Risk of Sigmoid Volvulus
    12. Swallowing difficulty
      1. Aspiration risk
      2. Drooling
      3. Inadequate oral intake
    13. Osteoporosis (90%)
    14. Hip displacement (33%)
    15. Urinary Incontinence (25%)
    16. Behavioral or emotional disorders
    17. Sleep Disorder
  8. Diagnosis
    1. Systematic, stepwise approach to diagnosis
      1. Thorough history and physical
      2. Recognize permanent, non-progressive motor function disorder
      3. Evaluate for comorbidities associated with Cerebral Palsy
      4. Obtain imaging if perinatal Ultrasound is not sufficient for diagnosis (see below)
      5. Consider differential diagnosis (see below)
    2. Findings suggestive of Cerebral Palsy
      1. Slow motor development
      2. Altered Muscle tone and Posture
      3. Moro Reflex persists beyond 6 months of age
      4. Dominant hand preference established under 12 months
    3. Findings of alternative diagnosis (neurodegenerative)
      1. Loss of acquired skills
      2. Atypical body odor (as seen in metabolic disorders)
      3. Loss of Deep Tendon Reflexes
    4. Severity Assessment Tools
      1. Gross Motor Function Classification System (CMFCS) for Cerebral Palsy
        1. Age based tool that rates mobility, Posture, and balance each on 5 point scale (1 for mild, 5 for severe)
        3. Palisano (1997) Dev Med Child Neurol 39:214-23 [PubMed]
    5. Timing of diagnosis
      1. Cerebral Palsy may be suspected on perinatal Ultrasound or postnatal brain MRI <6 months
      2. Diagnosis may not be made until age 12-24 months in areas with fewer Imaging Resources
    6. Resources
      1. Movement Disorder examples
  9. Imaging
    1. Perinatal Ultrasound (Fetal Survey)
    2. Newborn transcranial Ultrasound
    3. Brain MRI (variable findings depending on cause)
      1. Schizocephaly (cerebral tissue clefts)
      2. Hydrocephalus
      3. Periventricular leukomalacia
  10. Differential diagnosis
    1. Consider neurodegenerative disorders and Inborn Errors of Metabolism
    2. Examples
      1. Arginase deficiency
      2. Glutaric aciduria
      3. Niemann-Pick Disease
      4. Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome
      5. Rett Syndrome
  11. Management
    1. Approach
      1. Involve a multispecialty care team (surgery, OT, PT, speech-language, social work, psychology)
      2. Assistive Devices for Activities of Daily Living
      3. Enable mobility, optimize functionality and independence
      4. Address Mood Disorders
      5. Establish realistic goals with family
        1. Expect nearly best motor development by age 5 years
        2. Goals change over time (e.g. communication, social, academic)
    2. Global therapies with variable efficacy
      1. Neurodevelopmental treatment (Bobath method)
      2. Conductive education with rehabilitation program
    3. Communication
      1. Speech therapy may aid communication (e.g. voice synthesizers)
    4. Hearing
      1. Screen Hearing every 6 months from age 6 months to 3 years
    5. Vision
      1. Screen Visual Acuity at 1 and 4 years
      2. Observe for Strabismus and hemianopia
    6. Physical therapy
      1. Balance benefit with stress of frequent visits
      2. Improve hand function
        1. Constraint induced movement therapy
          1. Dominant hand constrained to promote use of nondominant hands
          2. May be more frustrating technique for children
        2. Hand-arm intensive bimanual therapy
          1. Also encourages use of both hands
      3. Resistive Exercise is controversial
        1. Has been avoided due to increased spasticity risk
        2. Recent studies suggest strengthening is beneficial
          1. Dodd (2002) Arch Phys Med Rehabil 83:1157-64 [PubMed]
    7. Medications: Spasticity
      1. Botulinum Toxin (Botox) injections for leg spasticity
        1. Reddigough (2002) Dev Med Child Neurol 44:820-7 [PubMed]
      2. Baclofen (Lioresal) intrathecal
        1. See Baclofen Pump
        2. Campbell (2002) Dev Med Child Neurol 44:660-5 [PubMed]
    8. Medications: General
      1. Pain (especially Hip Pain)
        1. Assess pain and treat adequately
        2. Hip Dislocation may occur spontaneously due to spasticity
      2. Constipation
        1. Bowel regimen (fluids, fiber, Stool Softeners)
      3. Osteoporosis
        1. Consider DEXA Scan (adults) and Osteoporosis treatment to prevent Fractures
    9. Seizures
      1. Emergent Seizure management is the same as for non-Cerebral Palsy patients
        1. Administer Benzodiazepines and Anticonvulsant loading
        2. Check Serum Glucose and anticonvulsant levels
        3. Other labs and diagnostic evaluation only as indicated by exam and history
      2. Seizures may be refractory to standard measures
        1. Combination antiepileptics are often required for Seizure control
        2. Consider Ketogenic Diet (risk of Drug Interactions)
    10. Surgery
      1. Leg spasticity
        1. Selective dorsal rhizotomy
          1. Selective cutting of L1-S2 dorsal rootlets
      2. Muscle imbalance with hip subluxation, dislocation
        1. Abduction bracing
        2. Soft tissue release
        3. Femoral or pelvic osteotomy
      3. Implantable stimulator to superior-medial Cerebellum
        1. Davis (2000) Arch Med Res 31:290-9 [PubMed]
      4. Gastrostomy for Swallowing and eating difficulties
        1. Samson-Fang (2003) Dev Med Child Neurol 45:415-26 [PubMed]
    11. Urinary Incontinence
      1. Consider physical therapy, biofeedback and medications
      2. Consider Bladder stimulators (neuromodulation)
    12. Prevent Pressure Ulcers
      1. Optimize repositioning and support surfaces
      2. Early wound care Consultation for Pressure Sores
    13. Adjuncts
      1. Lower limb orthoses (variable evidence)
        1. Ankle Orthotics to decrease equinus deformity and improve dorsiflexion
      2. Elastic body suits (difficult compliance)
      3. Mittens (due to sensory disorder)
        1. Prevent injury to fingers and hands, esp during certain periods such as Teething
  12. Prevention: Secondary conditions
    1. Observe for cancers of higher risk in Cerebral Palsy
      1. Brain cancer
      2. Breast Cancer
      3. Routine Health Maintenance
        1. Left lateral position more comfortable for pelvic
    2. Educate about injury risks
      1. Drowning risk
      2. Motor Vehicle Accidents
  13. References
    1. Herbert (2012) EM:Rap 2(9): 4
    2. Krigger (2006) Am Fam Physician 73:91-102 [PubMed]
    3. Novak (2017) JAMA Pediatr 171(9): 897-907 [PubMed]
    4. Vitrikas (2020) Am Fam Physician 101(4): 213-20 [PubMed]
    5. Wimalasundera (2016) Pract Neurol 16(3):184-94 +PMID:26837375 [PubMed]

Cerebral Palsy (C0007789)

Definition (CHV) birth injury of the brain nerve that controls body movement
Definition (CHV) birth injury of the brain nerve that controls body movement
Definition (CHV) birth injury of the brain nerve that controls body movement
Definition (MEDLINEPLUS)

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person's ability to move and to maintain balance and posture. The disorders appear in the first few years of life. Usually they do not get worse over time. People with cerebral palsy may have difficulty walking. They may also have trouble with tasks such as writing or using scissors. Some have other medical conditions, including seizure disorders or mental impairment.

Cerebral palsy happens when the areas of the brain that control movement and posture do not develop correctly or get damaged. Early signs of cerebral palsy usually appear before 3 years of age. Babies with cerebral palsy are often slow to roll over, sit, crawl, smile, or walk. Some babies are born with cerebral palsy; others get it after they are born.

There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but treatment can improve the lives of those who have it. Treatment includes medicines, braces, and physical, occupational and speech therapy.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Definition (NCI) A group of disorders affecting the development of movement and posture, often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, perception, cognition, and behavior. It results from damage to the fetal or infant brain.
Definition (SNOMEDCT_US) A permanent disorder of the development of movement, posture and motor function, causing activity limitation, caused by non-progressive disturbances in the developing fetal or infant brain.
Definition (MSH) A heterogeneous group of nonprogressive motor disorders caused by chronic brain injuries that originate in the prenatal period, perinatal period, or first few years of life. The four major subtypes are spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed cerebral palsy, with spastic forms being the most common. The motor disorder may range from difficulties with fine motor control to severe spasticity (see MUSCLE SPASTICITY) in all limbs. Spastic diplegia (Little disease) is the most common subtype, and is characterized by spasticity that is more prominent in the legs than in the arms. Pathologically, this condition may be associated with LEUKOMALACIA, PERIVENTRICULAR. (From Dev Med Child Neurol 1998 Aug;40(8):520-7)
Definition (CSP) heterogeneous group of nonprogressive motor disorders caused by chronic brain injuries that originate in the prenatal period, perinatal period, or first few years of life; the four major subtypes are spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed cerebral palsy, with spastic forms being the most common; the motor disorder may range from difficulties with fine motor control to severe spasticity in all limbs; spastic diplegia (Little disease) is the most common subtype, and is characterized by spasticity that is more prominent in the legs than in the arms.
Concepts Disease or Syndrome (T047)
MSH D002547
ICD10 G80, G80.9
SnomedCT 128188000, 270488006, 155024003, 267696006, 1178005
LNC MTHU020800
English Cerebral Palsy, Palsy cerebral, CP (Cerebral Palsy), Cerebral palsy NOS, Cerebral Palsy [Disease/Finding], cerebral palsy, cerebral palsy (diagnosis), Cerebral palsy, unspecified, Palsy;cerebral, cerebral palsy unspecified, cerebral paralysis, CP, Cerebral palsy (CP), Congenital cerebral palsy, Infantile cerebral palsy, Cerebral palsy, CP - Cerebral palsy, Cerebral palsy (disorder), cerebral; paralysis, paralysis; cerebral, Cerebral palsy, NOS, Cerebral palsy [Ambiguous]
German Zerebralparese, zerebrale Kinderlaehmung, Infantile Zerebralparese, Kinderlähmung, zerebrale
Swedish Cerebral pares
Japanese ノウセイマヒ, 脳性小児麻痺, 脳性まひ, リトル病, 小児麻痺-脳性, 脳性マヒ, リットル病, 脳性麻痺, Little病
Czech infantilní cerebrální paréza, dětská mozková obrna, Mozková obrna, mozková obrna, mozek - obrna
Finnish CP-oireyhtymä
Italian PC (Paralisi cerebrale), Paralisi cerebrale
French Paralysie cérébrale, Infirmité motrice cérébrale, Infirmité motrice d'origine cérébrale, IMC (Infirmité Motrice Cérébrale), IMOC (Infirmité Motrice d'Origine Cérébrale)
Polish Choroba Little'a, Dziecięce porażenie mózgowe, Porażenie mózgowe dziecięce
Hungarian Agyi paresis, Cerebralis paresis
Norwegian Cerebral parese, CP
Dutch cerebraal; verlamming, verlamming; cerebraal, hersenverlamming, Encefalopathie, infantiele, Infantiele encefalopathie, Little, ziekte van
Spanish parálisis cerebral (trastorno), parálisis cerebral, Parálisis cerebral, Parálisis Cerebral
Portuguese Paralisia cerebral, Paralisia Cerebral
Derived from the NIH UMLS (Unified Medical Language System)

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