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Cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is the general term for several neurological conditions that affect movement and coordination. These conditions are caused by problems in the brain and nervous system. Cerebral palsy is one type of physical disability.

Specifically, cerebral palsy is caused by a problem in the parts of the brain responsible for controlling muscles. It can occur if the brain develops abnormally or is damaged before, during, or shortly after birth.

Children with cerebral palsy may have needs ranging from very mild physical needs affecting their movements, to profound difficulties. These needs are often identified from birth.

However, it may not be possible to make a definitive diagnosis for several months or years. This is because some symptoms are not obvious until a child is several years old.

If you have concerns about your child’s movement, please contact your GP first.

Treatments for cerebral palsy

There is currently no cure for cerebral palsy. However, treatments are available to help people with the condition have as normal and independent a life as possible.

Health treatments include:

  • Physiotherapy techniques such as exercise and stretching to help maintain physical ability and improve movement problems
  • Speech and Language therapy to help with speech and communication, and swallowing difficulties
  • Occupational therapy where a therapist identifies problems you or your child have carrying out everyday tasks, and suggests ways to make these easier
  • Medication for muscle stiffness and other difficulties
  • Surgery: used in some cases to treat movement or growth problems

A team of healthcare professionals will work with you to come up with a treatment plan that meets your or your child's needs.

If your child has severe cerebral palsy, they will be seen by the community paediatrician and Wood Street Child Development Team at the Complex Needs Clinic.

How to get support for your


Wood Street Health Centre runs play group sessions for children with complex needs such as cerebral palsy. To find out more call: 020 8430 7787 or email

SENDsuccess runs a playgroup for children with cerebral palsy.

Useful links

There are various organisations that can provide you with advice and support: