Cerebral palsy and neurodegenerative disorders

17.2 Cerebral palsy and neurodegenerative disorders

Cerebral palsy

The term is generally applied to children with permanent motor impairment due to non-progressive brain disorders occurring before the age of 5 years. There are many different causes, a wide range of manifestations of the motor disorder, and various associated problems.

Cerebral palsy is not a single disorder, but a group of disorders with diverse implications for children and their families. For some young people with mild cerebral palsy, the only motor deficit may be a minimal hemiplegia, causing clumsiness with certain movements. In other children with severe cerebral palsy, the motor deficit may be spastic quadriplegia with little or no independent movement. Because each child with cerebral palsy is different, individual assessment and treatment are essential.


The cause of cerebral palsy is unknown in many children. Known risk factors include low birth weight, prematurity and multiple pregnancy. In a significant proportion of children who have cerebral palsy, there appears to have been no single event but rather a sequence of events or ‘causal pathways’ that have culminated in the motor damage.

What are the postneonatal causes of cerebral palsy?


Cerebral palsy is classified by motor type, topographical distribution and the severity of the motor disorder.

Severity of the motor disorder

The Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) provides information about the severity of the movement problems based on children’s motor abilities and their need for walking frames, wheelchairs and other mobility devices. There are five levels: children in levels I and II walk independently; children in level III need walking frames or elbow crutches; and children in levels IV and V use wheelchairs. This classification system does not consider cognitive and other deficits.

Growth Motor Development Curves for each of the GMFCS levels are available and provide some guidance regarding prognosis for motor development.

The Manual Abilities Classification System (MACS) describes how children with cerebral palsy use their hands to handle objects in daily activities. It also has five levels, from level I, where children handle objects easily and successfully, to level V, where children are unable to handle objects and have severely limited ability to perform even simple actions.

Aug 4, 2016 | Posted by in PEDIATRICS | Comments Off on Cerebral palsy and neurodegenerative disorders

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