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Shriners Hospitals for Children — Twin Cities

2025 East River Pkwy. Minneapolis, MN 55414

Minneapolis, MN


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Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition affecting muscle tone, movement and motor skills, which is the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful manner. Cerebral palsy is a common disorder that occurs before, during or immediately after the birth of children, and into childhood up to 5 years of age. Signs of cerebral palsy usually appear before 18 months of age. Shriners Hospitals for Children is considered a leader in treating the orthopaedic effects of cerebral palsy and it is the most commonly treated condition at the Twin Cities Shriners Hospital.

The exact causes of most cases of CP are unknown, but many cases are the result of problems during pregnancy in which the brain is either damaged or does not develop normally. Brain damage in infancy or early childhood has also been linked to the development of CP. CP affects muscle control and coordination, making even simple movements, like standing still, difficult. CP can be associated with other health conditions like brain damage; vision, hearing and speech problems; and learning disabilities, urinary incontinence and seizures. Cerebral palsy does not get worse over time .

There are three main types of CP:

Ataxic – This type causes a disturbance in balance and depth perception.
Athetoid – This type leads to involuntary and uncontrolled movements.
Spastic – The most common type of cerebral palsy, which causes stiffness and movement difficulties.

There are many subtypes of CP within each of the three main types. Within each main type, there are several more specific diagnoses indicating a more specific area of neurological damage, such as spastic hemiplegia, spastic diplegia and spastic quadriplegia.

Treatment for CP, including spasticity or overly tight muscles, and the orthopaedic effects ,varies depending on the severity of the condition. Our pediatric specialists put together customized care plans for children with CP.

Signs of cerebral palsy

Children with CP can exhibit a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Some typical signs to look for in your child may include:

Cerebral palsy symptoms do not generally worsen as the child ages, however, untreated spasticity and contractures (muscles that are too short or too tight) can result in worsening orthopaedic issues over time. 

Diagnosing cerebral palsy

Diagnosing cerebral palsy at an early age is important to the well-being of children and their families. There is no single test that confirms or rules out CP and is often a collaboration of medical professional evaluations. Developmental screening is a short test to see if the child has specific developmental delays, such as motor or movement delays. These are completed by the pediatrician at the child’s 9-month, 18-month and 24-month well-child exams. Depending on the severity and complexity of symptoms, diagnosis can be made between the ages of infancy and toddler. Diagnosing CP can take several steps and may include:

Treatment of cerebral palsy

Since the type and severity of CP greatly vary from case to case, your child’s treatment will be based on their specific issues and conditions. At Shriners Hospitals for Children — Twin Cities, our multidisciplinary team approach includes the physician, nurse, social worker, physical therapist, occupational therapist, dietician and orthotist. It is our goal to meet as many needs of the child as possible when they are here for their appointment.

Orthopaedic surgery

For the non-ambulatory child who is unable to walk, surgery is focused on the hips, the upper and lower extremities, and the spine.

For children who can walk, surgery is primarily focused on the upper and lower extremities.

Selective dorsal rhizotomy

Who your child may see for this condition:

Cary Mielke, M.D.
Michael Priola, M.D.
Christopher Vara, M.D.
A. Noelle Larson, M.D.
Steven Moran, M.D.
Todd Milbrandt, M.D.
Anthony Stans, M.D.
Albert Tu, M.D.
Ann Van Heest, M.D.