Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that affects muscle tone and coordination, body movements and balance. The condition is caused by a head injury to the part of the brain that controls movements and muscle tone. Most children are born with the brain injury that causes cerebral palsy, although it may not be diagnosed right away. The brain injury can be caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, a serious infection (such as meningitis or encephalitis), head trauma or a genetic condition. In some cases, there is not an obvious cause.
When your child comes to the Cerebral Palsy Program at Riley at IU Health for diagnosis and treatment, he or she will receive extensive care from multiple specialists. These specialists include experts in neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, orthopedic surgery, developmental pediatrics, nutrition, physical and occupational therapy and assistive devices (braces and wheelchairs). The Cerebral Palsy Program is the only comprehensive center of its kind in Indiana.
Cerebral palsy affects each child in a different way. The condition can be mild or severe, but it does not get worse over time. Children with cerebral palsy can also experience vision, hearing, speech and learning disabilities.
There are three different kinds of cerebral palsy:
- Athetoid cerebral palsy. This kind of cerebral palsy is marked by involuntary and uncontrolled movements.
- Ataxic cerebral palsy. This form of cerebral palsy affects balance and coordination.
- Spastic cerebral palsy. Children with this type of cerebral palsy have stiff arms or legs and trouble moving.
Signs of cerebral palsy usually appear before a child is 3 years old. Early symptoms include:
- Lack of coordination
- Stiff arms or legs
- Weak muscles
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Walking with a limp
- Walking on the toes
- Crouched gait
Symptoms of cerebral palsy vary depending on the specific form of the condition affecting your child. The most common symptoms include:
- Stiffness of the arms and/or legs
- Difficulty walking
- Developmental delays
Proper nutrition is highly important for children with cerebral palsy. Our cerebral palsy team includes dietitians who will work with you and your child to plan diets rich in the proper nutrients to keep bones strong and healthy.
Physical and occupational therapists are also a part of the comprehensive team. They will evaluate your child’s needs and develop a therapy treatment plan.
The Cerebral Palsy Program can help with intractable epilepsy management, spasticity treatment, orthopedic needs, growth and development and medical waiver information.
While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, the Cerebral Palsy Program at Riley at IU Health provides extensive management to strengthen your child’s abilities and maintain his or her well-being.
Conditions & Services
Our pediatric specialists provide patient- and family-centered care for most related conditions. The links below provide more specific information about some, but not all, of the conditions that we treat.
Care provided through the Cerebral Palsy Program is coordinated through experts in pediatric neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, orthopedics, developmental pediatrics and nutrition.
Program Forms & Resources
Program Forms & Resources
The Cerebral Palsy Program at Riley at IU Health provides the following forms for parents, healthcare providers and personnel. We have also curated relevant resources from other websites and provided links with brief descriptions of the information that is available.
We provide multispecialty care for a number of conditions. Below are links to our related departments.
For Health Professionals
The Cerebral Palsy Program at Riley at IU Health works with referring physicians to develop a long-term care plan for each patient. Referring physicians receive written recommendations for their patients. To refer a patient, please call 317.944.2353 or fax a referral form to 317.944.2390.
The Cerebral Palsy Program is a teaching center. Medical students and residents from the Indiana University School of Medicine frequently spend time in the program to receive training and participate in research.