There are a range of tell-tale signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy that affect physical movement, speech, and brain function. The severity of cerebral palsy can vary as can their effects on the individual. Learn more about the symptoms associated with cerebral palsy by reading the sections below.Early Warning Signs of Cerebral Palsy
The early symptoms of cerebral palsy are usually evident by the time the child reaches 18 months of age. The first signs of cerebral palsy include:
There are a number of developmental benchmarks in the first year of an infant’s life, including the ability to roll over, crawl, and walk. Other developmental problems include difficulty sucking and swallowing. Babies who suffer from cerebral palsy are typically slower to reach these milestones due to the effects of the condition. Some important developmental achievements include:
- Ability to roll over – three to six months
- Ability to babble – six to eight months
- Ability to sit with support – eight to ten months
- Ability to crawl – nine to 12 months
- Ability to walk alone – 12 to 15 months
- Ability to say a couple words other than dada and mama -12 to 15 months
- Ability to eat with fingers; hold bottle – 12 to 18 months
- Ability to turn pages in books; remove shoes and socks – 24 to 30 months
- Ability to walk up and down steps – 24 to 36 months
Abnormal Muscle Tone
Some children who have been diagnosed with cerebral palsy display abnormal muscle tone. Decreased muscle tone can cause the baby to seem relaxed, or floppy, while increased muscle tone can make the baby appear rigid. Abnormal muscle tone can also include unusual posture and the tendency to favor one side of the body.
Other Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
There are a number of other signs of cerebral palsy. The magnitude of these effects depends on the severity of the brain damage associated with the condition.
Individuals with cerebral palsy experience abnormal muscle control that can include involuntary, jerky, and slow movements. This can affect the individual’s balance and ability to walk, and cause uncontrollable movement of the arms and hands. Many victims of cerebral palsy have difficulty swallowing, which can lead to problems when eating or drinking, and cause drooling. Some individuals with cerebral palsy also experience a lack of muscle control, causing bowel control problems.
Some individuals with cerebral palsy experience difficulty learning how to do certain activities such as mathematics, drawing, and reading.
Some individuals with cerebral palsy have difficulty controlling the muscles of the mouth, tongue, voice box, and palate. This can affect speech, as well as the ability to swallow.
Seizures can be one of the more dangerous signs of cerebral palsy. About a third of individuals with cerebral palsy experience seizures. The seizures can appear early in life or years after the brain damage occurred.
A number of individuals with cerebral palsy suffer from partial hearing loss. To test for these effects, all individuals with cerebral palsy should undergo a hearing exam.
The majority of individuals who suffer from cerebral palsy exhibit the symptoms of strabismus, the turning in or out of the eye. This is caused by weakness of the muscles in the eye and can lead to nearsightedness. If strabismus is not corrected, it can lead more severe vision problems.