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Cerebral Palsy: Other Medical Problems - Topic Overview

The specific effects of cerebral palsy (CP) on a person depend on its type and severity, the level of mental impairment, and whether other health problems are present or other complications develop.

Other health problems

Health problems that may occur along with CP include:

  • Seizures. Many people with cerebral palsy have seizures, most commonly people with spastic hemiplegic CP (in which the arm and leg on the same side of the body are affected) and total body CP. Children with CP usually have their first seizure between the ages of 2 and 6 years.
  • Vision problems. People with cerebral palsy commonly have vision problems stemming from problems with the muscles that control their eye movements. The vision problems include strabismus, nystagmus, amblyopia, and being nearsighted.
  • Hearing loss. Hearing problems are common with cerebral palsy. They are more likely to occur in people whose CP was caused by viral infection (such as rubella) before birth or in people who have dyskinetic CP.
  • Speech problems. Some people with cerebral palsy may have difficulty speaking because of problems moving their tongues and vocal cords. They also may have problems expressing themselves with words and/or have problems reading.
  • Intellectual disability. This occurs in some people who have CP. It is most common in people who have total body CP, which affects the entire body to some degree, or in people who also have seizures. Sometimes the disability has a greater impact on a person's life than cerebral palsy. Mild degrees of intellectual disability or learning disabilities may be detected in individuals before the cerebral palsy is noticed.
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