About CP


Facts about cerebral palsy

  • CP is the most common physical disability in childhood
  • Globally more than 17 million people have CP
  • The overall prevalence of CP is ~0.2% of the population (i.e., 1 in 500) in developed countries
  • 2/3 of those living with CP are adults – it is a lifelong condition
  • The overall rate has not changed in the last 60 years however:
    • Mortality has decreased considerably
    • Rates of CP in extremely preterm births are declining
  • There is no definitive test for CP. However, those at highest risk of CP when they are born are:
    • Extremely premature OR diagnosed with neonatal encephalopathy AND abnormal brain imaging
    • WITH abnormal general movements at 4 months of age
    • However, 40% of all CP are term born singletons, with no apparent reason for concern at birth

What is cerebral palsy?

The most recent definition acknowledges the complexity of the condition and the impact of associated impairments1

CP is an umbrella term which “describes a group of disorders of the development of movement and posture, causing activity limitations, which are attributed to nonprogressive disturbances that occurred in the developing fetal or infant brain. The motor disorders of CP are often accompanied by disturbances of sensation, cognition, communication, perception, and/or behaviour, and/or by a seizure disorder”

Among children with cerebral palsy

  • 1 in 3 cannot walk
  • 1 in 4 cannot talk
  • 1 in 4 had epilepsy
  • 1 in 25 were deaf
  • 3 in 4 were in pain
  • 1 in 2 had an intellectual disability
  • 1 in 3 had a hip displacement
  • 1 in 4 had a behavior disorder
  • 1 in 4 had bladder control problems
  • 1 in 5 dribbled
  • 1 in 10 were blind
  • 1 in 15 were tube-fed
  • 1 in 5 had a sleep disorder

Children and adults unable to walk are more likely to experience these accompanying impairments. The risk for pain and behavioural problems occurs equally at all levels of physical disability.

Describing cerebral palsy by motor type, topography, function and proportions in a total population

  • Spasticity – 85%
  • Dyskinesia – 7%
  • Ataxia – 6%
  • Hypotonia – 2%

Rosenbaum, P., Paneth, N., Leviton, A., Goldstein, M., & Bax, M. (2007). A report: The definition and classification of cerebral palsy april 2006. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 49(2), 8-14.