What other conditions are associated with cerebral palsy?
Intellectual disability. Approximately 30 – 50 percent of individuals with CP will be intellectually impaired. Mental impairment is more common among those with spastic quadriplegia than in those with other types of cerebral palsy.
Seizure disorder. As many as half of all children with CP have one or more seizures. Children with both cerebral palsy and epilepsy are more likely to have intellectual disability.
Delayed growth and development. Children with moderate to severe CP, especially those with spastic quadriparesis, often lag behind in growth and development. In babies this lag usually takes the form of too little weight gain. In young children it can appear as abnormal shortness, and in teenagers it may appear as a combination of shortness and lack of sexual development. The muscles and limbs affected by CP tend to be smaller than normal, especially in children with spastic hemiplegia, whose limbs on the affected side of the body may not grow as quickly or as long as those on the normal side.
Spinal deformities and osteoarthritis. Deformities of the spine—curvature (scoliosis), humpback (kyphosis), and saddle back (lordosis) -- are associated with CP. Spinal deformities can make sitting, standing, and walking difficult and cause chronic back pain. Pressure on and misalignment of the joints may result in osteoporosis (a breakdown of cartilage in the joints and bone enlargement).
Impaired vision. Many children with CP have strabismus, commonly called ―cross eyes,‖ which left untreated can lead to poor vision in one eye and can interfere with the ability to judge distance. Some children with CP have difficulty understanding and organizing visual information. Other children may have defective vision or blindness that blurs the normal field of vision in one or both eyes.
Hearing loss. Impaired hearing is also more frequent among those with CP than in the general population. Some children have partial or complete hearing loss, particularly as the result of jaundice or lack of oxygen to the developing brain.
Speech and language disorders. Speech and language disorders, such as difficulty forming words and speaking clearly, are present in more than a third of persons with CP. Poor speech impairs communication and is often interpreted as a sign of cognitive impairment, which can be very frustrating to children with CP, especially the majority who have average to above average intelligence,
Drooling. Some individuals with CP drool because they have poor control of the muscles of the throat, mouth, and tongue.
Incontinence. A possible complication of CP is incontinence, caused by poor control of the muscles that keep the bladder closed.
Abnormal sensations and perceptions. Some individuals with CP experience pain or have difficulty feeling simple sensations, such as touch.
Learning difficulties. Children with CP may have difficulty processing particular types of spatial and auditory information. Brain damage may affect the development of language and intellectual functioning.
Infections and long-term illnesses. Many adults with CP have a higher risk of heart and lung disease, and pneumonia (often from inhaling bits of food into the lungs), than those without the disorder.
Contractures. Muscles can become painfully fixed into abnormal positions, called contractures, which can increase muscle spasticity and joint deformities in people with CP.
Malnutrition. Swallowing, sucking, or feeding difficulties can make it difficult for many individuals with CP, particularly infants, to get proper nutrition and gain or maintain weight.
Dental problems. Many children with CP are at risk of developing gum disease and cavities because of poor dental hygiene. Certain medications, such as seizure drugs, can exacerbate these problems.Inactivity. Childhood inactivity is magnified in children with CP due to impairment of the motor centers of the brain that produce and control voluntary movement. While children with CP may exhibit increased energy expenditure during activities of daily living, movement impairments make it difficult for them to participate in sports and other activities at a level of intensity sufficient to develop and maintain strength and fitness. Inactive adults with disability exhibit increased severity of disease and reduced overall health and well-being.