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Clinical features and classification of cerebral palsy

Laurie Glader, MD
Elizabeth Barkoudah, MD
Section Editors
Marc C Patterson, MD, FRACP
Carolyn Bridgemohan, MD
Deputy Editor
Carrie Armsby, MD, MPH


Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a heterogeneous group of conditions involving permanent nonprogressive central motor dysfunction that affect muscle tone, posture, and movement [1,2]. These conditions are due to abnormalities of the developing fetal or infantile brain resulting from a variety of causes. The motor impairment generally results in limitations in functional abilities and activity which can range in severity. Multiple additional symptoms often accompany the primary motor abnormalities, including altered sensation or perception, intellectual disability, communication and behavioral difficulties, seizure disorders, and musculoskeletal complications. Although the underlying etiology itself is not progressive, the clinical expression may change over time as the brain matures.

The clinical features and classification of CP are reviewed here. The epidemiology, etiology, prevention, evaluation, diagnosis, management, and prognosis are discussed separately:

(See "Epidemiology, etiology, and prevention of cerebral palsy".)

(See "Evaluation and diagnosis of cerebral palsy".)

(See "Management and prognosis of cerebral palsy".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 31, 2017.
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