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Cerebral palsy results from a brain injury just before, during, or after birth. Coping with cerebral palsy can be challenging, not just for a child, but also for the child’s family. After protecting a growing child for nine months during the pregnancy, a birth injury can be devastating.

The first indicator of cerebral palsy might show up in your doctor’s office or the delivery room. If something goes wrong around the time of your delivery, watch for signs of birth injuries, including cerebral palsy.

Additional information about cerebral palsy, along with ways to spot signs of the injury in your child, are detailed below.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is abnormal development or damage to the brain caused around the time of birth. The severity of the symptoms varies widely among patients.

This condition can occur due to natural causes. However, in some cases, a medical error leads to the development of cerebral palsy.

Doctors cannot cure cerebral palsy. Though, therapy can reduce the symptoms of cerebral palsy. Most people with cerebral palsy will need therapy and medication for the rest of their lives.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the location of the brain damage incurred. Some types of cerebral palsy include:


This form of cerebral palsy causes stiffness in the muscles. Depending on the location of the damage, the arms, legs, trunk, and face may experience symptoms.


Dyskinetic cerebral palsy causes jerky, uncontrolled movements. These movements can occur in the hands, arms, legs, feet, face, and tongue.


This type of cerebral palsy affects balance and coordination. Muscle tremors and difficulty walking can result.


The most common form of cerebral palsy includes a mixture of spastic and dyskinetic symptoms.

Is This Normal? Indicators of Cerebral Palsy to Watch For

Indicators of cerebral palsy will often appear soon after the injury. The signs of cerebral palsy fall into a few categories.

Physical Signs

You can see many of the signs of cerebral palsy in your child’s movement. Children without cerebral palsy will kick and reach out with their arms and hands. At about three months, they will be able to lift their heads while laying on their stomachs. By 18 months, they will stand and walk.

Children with cerebral palsy will often miss these milestones. Their stiff muscles might prevent them from kicking and reaching. Since cerebral palsy affects muscle tone, children with cerebral palsy may feel stiff or floppy when you carry them.

The child’s growth might lag, causing them to miss both height and weight milestones. The child may have difficulty breathing or swallowing.

Two of the most common signs of cerebral palsy include arching the neck and back and scissoring or crossing the legs.


A child without cerebral palsy should be able to bring their hands to their mouth. They should track objects with their eyes and head. They can coordinate their arms, legs, and torso to roll over. They will crawl on all fours.

Children with cerebral palsy may favor one side, using the arm and leg on one side, while not moving the limbs on the other side. They often cannot bring their hands together or move their hands to their mouths. They may scoot or bounce, rather than crawl. They may not have the muscle control to turn their heads to respond to objects and sounds.


Children without cerebral palsy typically smile at about six weeks old. They soon begin to recognize their parents and favorite objects. They will start communicating through body language and verbalizations. 

Some children with cerebral palsy miss these developmental milestones. They may smile later or not at all, especially if they cannot control their facial muscles. Since the child may have trouble controlling muscles in their neck and eyes, they may be slower to follow and recognize faces and objects. Communication may be delayed because of difficulties breathing or controlling the mouth and tongue.

Causes of Cerebral Palsy

Doctors cannot identify the direct cause of a child’s cerebral palsy in many cases. However, in some cases, a medical error causes cerebral palsy.

A lack of oxygen to the brain during labor and delivery is the primary factor that often causes the brain damage that leads to cerebral palsy. A bump on the head during or immediately after delivery can also cause cerebral palsy. Children born prematurely and those that acquire infections around the time of birth also have a higher risk of cerebral palsy.

Hiring Birth Injury Lawyers

Children with cerebral palsy might need medical treatment and physical therapy for their entire lives. If the child was injured due to a medical error, the Indianapolis cerebral palsy lawyers at Wagner Reese can help parents to secure compensation for their child’s condition. This compensation can cover the costs of treatment, therapy, and medication.

Contact Wagner Reese for more information or to schedule a free case evaluation.