Cerebral palsy is a neurologic disorder characterized by a spectrum of motor and cognitive deficits resulting from insults to the developing brain. The etiologies are numerous and likely multifactorial; an increasing portion of cases may be attributable to genetic causes, although the exact mechanisms responsible remain poorly understood. Major risk factors include intrauterine stroke and prematurity and neonatal infection, trauma, and hypoxia, which may occur in the prenatal, perinatal, or postnatal period. The Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS) is a widely used tool to establish a child’s level of function and to guide treatment; however, additional metrics are necessary to formulate long-term prognoses. Goals of care are to maximize function and independence, which directly correlate with overall quality of life, and family participation is key to establishing goals early in treatment. Nonpharmaceutical treatments include physical, occupational, and speech therapy, as well as bracing, equipment, and technology. There is a breadth of medical interventions for managing hypertonia, including medications, botulinum toxin injections, intrathecal baclofen pumps, and selective dorsal rhizotomy. Orthopedic interventions are indicated for symptomatic or progressive musculoskeletal sequelae. Treatments for dysplastic hips and/or hip instability range from soft tissue releases to bony procedures. Neuromuscular scoliosis is managed with posterior spinal fusion because bracing is ineffective against these rapidly progressive curves. The degree of care varies considerably depending on the child’s baseline GMFCS level and functional capabilities, and early screening, diagnosis, and appropriate referrals are paramount to initiating early care and maximizing the child’s quality of life.

You do not currently have access to this content.