Cerebral palsy can result from a brain malformation, but it can also occur because of an injury during birth. This motor disability causes a range of mobility problems because of damage to the parts of the brain that control the muscles. 

Learn about the symptoms of cerebral palsy and treatments that can address resulting disability. 

Signs of cerebral palsy 

Because the damage caused by cerebral palsy varies dramatically on a case by case basis, this condition can be difficult to diagnose. Symptoms sometimes arise when the child is a newborn and usually develop before the child enters kindergarten. Before an infant reaches 6 months old, parents may notice: 

  • Unnatural stiffness in the legs 
  • Overextending the legs and back while a parent holds the child 
  • Floppiness or rigidity of the muscles 
  • Inability to hold the head up 

Babies older than 6 months may display: 

  • Inability to sit up unsupported 
  • Inability to crawl or lopsided, uneven crawling 
  • Reaching with only one hand while clenching the other hand 
  • Difficulty bringing the hands together or to the face 
  • Inability to roll over in either direction 

Keep in mind that every child develops at his or her own rate. Failure to meet milestones does not alone indicate cerebral palsy or brain damage. 

Diagnosis and treatment for cerebral palsy 

If you have concerns about your child’s motor development, talk to his or her pediatrician. The doctor will track your child’s development over time and may recommend further screening and evaluation if necessary. 

Although there is not yet a cure for cerebral palsy, early intervention services can improve a child’s capabilities and accommodation motor limitations. You can request a free early intervention evaluation from the state before your child turns three. 

Although most cases of cerebral palsy are congenital, birth injuries such as cerebral palsy can result from medical malpractice. If you think you may have a legal claim because of health care provider negligence during labor and delivery, you have three years to file a lawsuit in Washington state.