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Cerebral Palsy in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Cerebral palsy is the name for a group of nerve disorders that make it hard for a child to control movement. It results from damage to the brain that usually occurs before birth. Just as every child grows up differently, every child with cerebral palsy is unique. For some children, cerebral palsy causes only a slight limp or a staggered walk. Others have little or no control over their arms and legs or other parts of the body.

Your doctor may do more tests to see how cerebral palsy affects your child.

You and your doctor can create a treatment plan to manage symptoms and help your child have an independent life. The treatment plan will most likely include physiotherapy and may include medicines and other therapies. You may find local or national support groups to be helpful. Talking with other parents with similar challenges can help. You also may find that counselling helps you understand and manage how you are feeling about your child's condition.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Learn about cerebral palsy. The more you learn, the better you will be able to help your child. You will also learn ways to cope with raising a child with cerebral palsy.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough rest, eat well, and exercise.
  • Help each other. The entire family is affected when a child has cerebral palsy.
  • Consider joining a support group with other families of children with cerebral palsy. These groups can be a good source of information and tips for what to do. Your doctor can tell you how to contact a support group.
  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think your child is having a problem with his or her medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.

Help with daily routines

  • Discuss physiotherapy with your doctor. Physiotherapy may include special exercises, and devices such as braces, casts, or splints. This therapy helps keep your child moving the best he or she can.
  • Children with cerebral palsy have different needs. Talk to your doctor about your child's needs, such as bowel or skin care needs.
  • Because cerebral palsy causes problems with movement, safety is very important. Make your home as fall-proof as possible. Talk to your doctor about ways to make your house safe.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child stops breathing, turns blue, or becomes unconscious. Follow instructions given by emergency services while you wait for help.
  • Your child has severe trouble breathing. Signs may include the chest sinking in, using belly muscles to breathe, or nostrils flaring while your child is struggling to breathe.
  • Your child chokes during feeding and you are not able to get the food loose.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has a seizure for the first time.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child has any new symptoms, such as constipation or skin problems.
  • Your child often coughs and chokes during feeding.
  • You are having trouble caring for your child.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.