Cerebral palsy are all characterized by abnormal muscle tone, reflexes, or motor development and coordination. There can be joint and bone deformities and contractures (permanently fixed, tight muscles and joints). The classical symptoms are spasticities, spasms, other involuntary movements (e.g. facial gestures), unsteady gait, problems with balance, and/or soft tissue findings consisting largely of decreased muscle mass.
Cerebral palsy can occur during pregnancy, during childbirth or after birth up to about age three. Babies born with severe cerebral palsy often have an abnormal posture; their bodies may be either too floppy or too stiff. Birth defects including a small jawbone, spinal curvature, or a small head occur along with cerebral palsy at times. Symptoms may turn up or vary as a child grows. Some babies born with CP do not show obvious signs until the baby reaches the developmental stage at six and a half to 9 months and begin to mobilise.
Secondary conditions can include seizures, epilepsy, apraxia, dysarthria or other communication disorders, eating problems, sensory impairments, mental retardation, learning disabilities, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence or behavioral disorders.
Speech and language disorders are common in people with cerebral palsy. Speech impairments in spastic dysarthria involves four major abnormalities of voluntary movement: spasticity, weakness, limited range of motion and slowness of movement.