Apgar Score – When a child is
born, a physician will take note of his or her activity - muscle tone, pulse,
grimace, reflex irritability, appearance, skin color, and respiration. These
observations are made once immediately following birth and once five minutes
later. A score of zero to ten is then calculated. A low score alerts a doctor
that resuscitation may be necessary and a high score reassures a doctor that the
baby is healthy. Children with cerebral palsy often receive low apgar scores.
Ataxia - Jerky, uncoordinated movements.
Athetosis - Involuntary movements - uncontrolled/unwanted movements.
Baclofen - A medication used to reduce spasticity.
Brain Damage – During pregnancy or birth, brain damage to a child may
cause cerebral palsy. The following problems may result in brain damage: Rh
incompatibility, a lack of oxygen to the baby, a mother’s urinary tract
infection, bleeding within the infant’s brain, or poisoning due to the mother’s
use of alcohol or drugs.
Central Nervous System - The brain and the spinal cord. Receives sensory
impulses from the rest of the nervous system and then controls the body's
response to those impulses.
Cerebral Palsy – A general term for a group of permanent brain injuries
that affect an infant in the womb, during birth, or in the months following
birth. Cerebral palsy patients may have limited motor skills, speech
difficulties, learning disabilities, or other problems.
Chorea - Uncontrollable, small, jerky types of movements of toes and
Cognitive Functions - The skills of the brain - memory, attention, and
CT Scan – A “computed tomography” scan may be used to determine the cause
of cerebral palsy in a child. This test scans the brain, looking for
abnormalities and areas that have not properly developed.
Dysarthria – A speech disorder that often affects people with cerebral
palsy, caused by a weakness in the muscles that produce speech. In mild cases,
there may only be a slight slurring of speech; in more severe cases, the person
may depend upon a voice output system to speak.
Dystonia - Involuntary slow, sustained muscle contractions resulting in
abnormal postures and twisting motions of arms, legs, and trunk.
Gait - How an individual walks. Normal gait requires the proper
functioning of the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system.
Hemiplegia - One side of the body affected. Arm and leg may be equally or
Hypertonia - Increased postural tone; ‘stiffness’ of muscles.
Hypotonia - Reduced postural tone; ‘floppiness’ of muscles.
Intention Tremors – As a person with ataxic cerebral palsy reaches for an
object or attempts to perform an act (such as putting on a shoe), the body part
that he or she is moving may begin to tremble. Intention tremors become stronger
as the person reaches the object.
Involuntary Movement – Movement that is not under the control of the
brain. The movement is caused by electrical stimulation of the muscle, and in
individuals with cerebral palsy, the involuntary movement happens so often that
it interferes with their ability to function.
Muscle tone - Defines the condition of the muscles. Muscles that are
affected by cerebral palsy will be either floppy and loose or stiff and rigid.
Poor muscle tone limits movement.
Occupational therapy - Therapy designed to enable the individual to work
with their arms and hands.
Physical therapy - Therapy designed to improve mobility and keep muscles
RH Incompatibility - Results when the blood type of the fetus, or
developing child, differs from the blood type of the mother.
Rhizotomy - A surgical procedure to decrease spasticity.
Seizures – A person having a seizure may abruptly “freeze,” fall and
shake violently or simply fall down. Seizures affect about half of all people
with cerebral palsy but are usually not harmful.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy – A form of cerebral palsy that causes tightness
in the muscles. Because of this tightness, spastic cerebral palsy patients have
a difficult time controlling their movement.
Spastic Diplegia – A form of spastic cerebral palsy that affects muscle
control in either arms or legs.
Spastic Hemiplegia – A form of spastic cerebral palsy that affects muscle
control on one side of the body.
Spastic Monoplegia – A form of spastic cerebral palsy that affects only
one limb. This form of spastic cerebral palsy is rare.
Spastic Quadriplegia – A form of spastic cerebral palsy that affects both
the arms and the legs of a patient.
Spastic Triplegia – A form of spastic cerebral palsy that affects three
of the limbs. This form of spastic cerebral palsy, like spastic monoplegia, is
Speech therapy - Therapy used to increase communication skills. It may
also include teaching sign language or using a communication device.