What is cerebral palsy

What is cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a physical disability that affects movement and posture. It is the most common physical disability in children.

Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. In most cases, it is caused by an injury to the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. It is a permanent life-long condition, but generally does not worsen over time.

Cerebral meaning ‘of the brain’ and palsy referring to ‘a lack of muscle control’ affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. People who have cerebral palsy may also have visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy and intellectual impairments.

As a global centre of expertise for cerebral palsy research, advocacy, intervention and assistive technology innovation, we’ve produced an educational video series to demystify what cerebral palsy is.

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About cerebral palsy - an introduction

Find out the basics about cerebral palsy (CP) in this introduction to the What is CP video series, presented by CPA researchers Natasha Garrity and Georgina Henry.
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What is CP video series

Hosted by Cerebral Palsy Alliance researchers Natasha Garrity and Georgina Henry, it features people with lived experience of cerebral palsy (CP). They share how cerebral palsy impacts them, explaining the types of cerebral palsy, for example, Ataxic, Dyskinetic and Spastic, symptoms, and what the GMFCS (Gross Motor Functionality Classification Scale) is.
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Types of cerebral palsy

Hosts and CPA researchers Natasha Garrity and Georgina Henry explain the different types of CP, how CP impacts people and the kinds of supports needed.
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What is the GMFCS?

CPA researchers Natasha Garrity and Georgina Henry explains what the GMFCS (Gross Motor Function Classification Scale) is in relation to cerebral palsy.
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Education and employment

In this fourth video, young people with CP share their experiences of education and employment.
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Assistive technology

In this fifth video people with cerebral palsy share their experiences of how assistive technology supports.

Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in childhood


people are living with CP in Australia

17 million


1 in 700

Australian babies is diagnosed with CP

How can we help?

As a global centre of expertise for cerebral palsy, we can support you in many ways.

  • Our Treatment Guides provide information based on the latest research evidence. These guides are organised into age groups.
  • Our Services include early childhood intervention;  therapy, health and wellbeing; supported independent living; assistive technology; lifestyle programs and more.

If you are a new parent and want advice, reach out to our world-leading Early Diagnosis Clinics. Getting the right diagnosis early means starting the right support early.


  1. ACPR. (2023). Australian Cerebral Palsy Register Report Birth Years 1995 – 2016: Click to download report.
  2. Access Economics. (2008). The Economic Impact of Cerebral Palsy in Australia in 2007. 
  3. Novak, I., Hines, M., Goldsmith, S., & Barclay, R. (2012). Clinical prognostic messages from a systematic review on cerebral palsy. Pediatrics, 130(5), e1285-1312. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-0924 
  4. Rosenbaum, P., Paneth, N., Leviton, A., Goldstein, M., Bax, M., Damiano, D., Dan, B & Jacobsson, B. (2007). A report: the definition and classification of cerebral palsy April 2006. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 49 (Issue Supplement 109), 8-14.

Goal Directed Training Therapy

What's your goal? GDT works well for gross motor and movement skills, school and work-based activities, self-care, everyday tasks and activities, communication and other goals.