Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood, usually before age 3. While the disorders affect muscles and nerves, they are not muscle or nerve issues but instead are caused by abnormalities in the areas of the brain that control muscle function. CP impairs the ability to control movement because of damage to the developing brain. Patients often experience impaired and/or exaggerated movements or reflexes, floppy or rigid muscle tone, unnatural posture, involuntary movements, or a clumsy gait. CP also can cause an imbalance in the eye muscles or trouble swallowing. Many CP patients have normal intellectual function, though in some cases the damage in the brain may extend beyond movement to include varying degrees of developmental disability.

Cerebral palsy is not progressive, meaning the damage does not worsen over time, and symptoms may improve with therapy. Typically, the earlier treatment begins, the better the chances the patient has of overcoming impairments. The functional abilities of those with CP vary greatly. Some patients are able to walk, while others are not. Evidence suggests that infections, trauma at birth, or lack of oxygen before, during and immediately after birth are factors in CP. Premature infants are especially at risk, as are children who experience severe illness or physical trauma in the first years of life.


At UAB, our nationally known Movement Disorders Service features several neurologists, each with a specialty focus one of these conditions. Because of the high national regard for our physicians, thousands of patients annually seek evaluation and treatment at our Comprehensive Parkinson Disease (PD) and Movement Disorder Clinic.  Many are drawn by our designation as both an APDA Parkinson’s Disease Information and Referral Center and as a Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia and Parkinson’s Disease Program of Excellence.

At our clinic you will receive sensitive care from our nursing staff. You will benefit from the full array of the latest diagnostic and treatment methods, including neuropsychological evaluations, medications, deep brain stimulation surgery, and botulinum toxin injection therapy. Our specialists in physical, occupational, and speech therapy are available to help you maximize your functional abilities and quality of life while in treatment.

Because we are an academic and research center, you may be eligible to test new medical and surgical therapies, including neuroprotective therapies for Parkinson disease. Each new patient at the UAB Movement Disorders Clinic is evaluated for inclusion in these ongoing trials. We work with UAB functional neurosurgeons to coordinate treatment strategies for movement disorders, including PD, dystonia, and essential tremor.






UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for Cerebral Palsy. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials