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5 - Hemiplegic cerebral palsy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 August 2009

Patricia Howlin
Affiliation:
St George's Hospital Medical School, University of London
Orlee Udwin
Affiliation:
Mary Sheridan Centre for Child Health, London
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Summary

Introduction

Cerebral palsy (CP) is the single largest cause of severe physical disability in childhood. CP is not a single condition but an ‘umbrella term’ for a heterogeneous group of congenital and early-acquired brain disorders that meet three criteria. Firstly, the disorders are long-lasting rather than short-lived. While most types of CP are life-long, some children with mild CP in early childhood do eventually outgrow their symptoms. Secondly, the underlying brain lesions are static, though the clinical manifestations may change as the child grows up. This criterion rules out progressive neurodegenerative conditions or brain tumours. Thirdly, the clinical manifestations include impairments of motor function, including weakness, stiffness, poor co-ordination or involuntary movements. These motor problems are often accompanied by other clinical manifestations of brain disorders, including epilepsy, learning problems and sensory impairments. The American term ‘static encephalopathy’ is roughly equivalent to CP, except that motor involvement is not obligatory.

The subclassification of CP is based on the type and distribution of motor problems. Spasticity – involving stiffness and weakness of affected muscles – is usually the dominant motor problem. This spasticity affects: just one side of the body in hemiplegic CP; both legs to a severe extent and both arms to a mild extent in diplegic CP; and all four limbs severely in quadriplegic CP (which is also known as tetraplegia or double hemiplegia). Less commonly, the motor problems are dominated by ataxia (incoordination) or by dyskinesia (involuntary jerking or writhing movements).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2002

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  • Hemiplegic cerebral palsy
  • Edited by Patricia Howlin, St George's Hospital Medical School, University of London, Orlee Udwin, Mary Sheridan Centre for Child Health, London
  • Book: Outcomes in Neurodevelopmental and Genetic Disorders
  • Online publication: 13 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511543876.006
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  • Hemiplegic cerebral palsy
  • Edited by Patricia Howlin, St George's Hospital Medical School, University of London, Orlee Udwin, Mary Sheridan Centre for Child Health, London
  • Book: Outcomes in Neurodevelopmental and Genetic Disorders
  • Online publication: 13 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511543876.006
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Hemiplegic cerebral palsy
  • Edited by Patricia Howlin, St George's Hospital Medical School, University of London, Orlee Udwin, Mary Sheridan Centre for Child Health, London
  • Book: Outcomes in Neurodevelopmental and Genetic Disorders
  • Online publication: 13 August 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511543876.006
Available formats
×