What is the Prognosis for Children with Cerebral Palsy?

Although patients with very severe forms of cerebral palsy may have a shortened life expectancy, many children with CP can expect a normal life span. Morbidity and mortality is related to the severity of the CP itself, as well as the accompanying medical complications, particularly respiratory and gastrointestinal issues. Cognitive impairment occurs in children with CP more frequently than in other children, and approximately 75% of the individuals with CP have mental retardation or learning disabilities. While the popular press often depicts children with cerebral palsy in wheelchairs, the reality is that only about 25% of the kids with CP are unable to ambulate.

Figure 3 summarizes the functional outcomes in youngsters with cerebral palsy.

Figure 3. Prognosis for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Prognosis and % of Cases
Mild involvement (25%) Minimal or no functional limitation in ambulation, self care, and other ADL's
Moderate involvement (50%) Function is satisfactory, but complete independence is unlikely
Severe involvement (25%) Nonambulatory and require extensive care

Instant Feedback:
Many children with CP demonstrate good self-care skills.