The term infantile cerebral palsy (ICP) refers to a disorder affecting posture and movement. It is a persistent but variable disorder that follows a non-progressive injury of the growing brain.
It has many possible causes interfering with the prenatal, perinatal or postnatal periods.
ICP is classified into four categories depending on the predominant movement disorder: spastic, dystonic, ataxic, and mixed. Depending on the extent of the motor injury, the disorder may result in tetraplegia, diplegia, hemiplegia or monoplegia.
Other signs and symptoms may occur in association with the motor disorder, some of the most significant of these being mental retardation in two thirds of patients (particularly in patients with spastic tetraplegia), learning difficulties, visual impairments, auditory deficits, communication disorders, seizures, emotional or behavioural disorders, swallowing disorders, etc.
Treatment during the developmental stage aims at guiding psychomotor development in each case to prevent future complications. In the adult stage, with the neuromotor function fully acquired, at least an annual follow-up is important. This helps possible complications to be detected early. It is also an opportunity to evaluate and assure function maintenance.
The annual incidence of infantile cerebral palsy is estimated at 2 to 2.5 per 1,000 births.