This guideline covers diagnosing, assessing and managing cerebral palsy in children and young people from birth up to their 25th birthday. It aims to make sure they get the care and treatment they need for the developmental and clinical comorbidities associated with cerebral palsy, so that they can be as active and independent as possible.
Cerebral palsy is the most common cause of physical disability in children and young people in the developed world, with a prevalence of around 2 to 2.5 per 1,000. The term describes a group of permanent, non-progressive abnormalities of the developing fetal or neonatal brain that lead primarily to disorders of movement and posture, causing 'activity limitation' and 'functional impact'.
The interaction of primary neurological and secondary physiological factors leads to challenges in terms of both early recognition of cerebral palsy and lifelong management for the person and their families. Children with cerebral palsy generally present to services in 1 of 2 ways: either by identification of atypical motor patterns in those considered at high risk because of antenatal or perinatal complications, or because of atypical motor development picked up during background population assessment.
Recognition of clinical risk and management for people with cerebral palsy change throughout their lives. Understanding the aetiology of the condition, and so minimising the risk and early impact on the brain, may directly affect lifelong outcomes.