WellSpan Home

Cerebral Palsy: Other Medical Problems

Topic Overview

The specific effects of cerebral palsy (CP) on a person depend on its type and severity, the level of mental impairment, and whether other health problems are present or other complications develop.

Other health problems

Health problems that may occur along with CP include:

  • Seizures. Many people with cerebral palsy have seizures, most commonly people with spastic hemiplegic CP (in which the arm and leg on the same side of the body are affected) and total body CP. Children with CP usually have their first seizure between the ages of 2 and 6 years.
  • Vision problems. People with cerebral palsy commonly have vision problems stemming from problems with the muscles that control their eye movements. The vision problems include strabismus, nystagmus, amblyopia, and being nearsighted.
  • Hearing loss. Hearing problems are common with cerebral palsy. They are more likely to occur in people whose CP was caused by viral infection (such as rubella) before birth or in people who have dyskinetic CP.
  • Speech problems. Some people with cerebral palsy may have difficulty speaking because of problems moving their tongues and vocal cords. They also may have problems expressing themselves with words and/or have problems reading.
  • Intellectual disability. This occurs in some people who have CP. It is most common in people who have total body CP, which affects the entire body to some degree, or in people who also have seizures. Sometimes the disability has a greater impact on a person's life than cerebral palsy. Mild degrees of intellectual disability or learning disabilities may be detected in individuals before the cerebral palsy is noticed.


Complications can also occur with CP, such as:

  • Joint problems. Permanently stiff joints (contractures) and dislocated hips may develop. In addition, some preteens, teens, and young adults develop abnormal curves in the spine (scoliosis).
  • Bowel and bladder problems. Stools may become hard and difficult to pass and may cause pain. Bladder problems may lead to bed-wetting or daytime incontinence.
  • Choking. People with CP may cough, gag, and choke when eating. They may inhale food into their lungs, which can cause pneumonia. People with total body cerebral palsy are most prone to gagging and choking.
  • Acid reflux (GERD). Stomach acid washing back into the esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can cause pain, irritation, and bleeding.
  • Slowed growth. Growth problems may be caused by poor nutrition or by damage to certain parts of the brain: babies with CP may not gain weight at the same rate as other babies their age, young children with CP may be shorter than average, teens' sexual development may be slower than normal. Other growth problems may also occur, such as muscles tightening around the long bones of a leg. This can result in one shorter leg, which makes walking difficult.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerLouis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics

Current as ofMay 4, 2017

Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.


Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.