Written by

Parbeen Alamgir - Associate & Senior Birth Injury Solicitor

What is Cerebral Palsy? 

Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage before, during and shortly after pregnancy and childbirth. it is the most common motor disability in childhood according to CDC. The NHS say symptoms of cerebral palsy include: 

  • Delayed development such as not sitting by 8 months or not walking by 18 months 
  • Appear to be too stiff or too floppy (hypotonia) 
  • They have weak arms or legs 
  • They show fidgety, jerky or clumsy movements 
  • They have random, uncontrolled movements 
  • Experience muscle spasms 
  • Their hands are shaking (tremors) 
  • They walk on tiptoes 


Which famous people have cerebral palsy? 

According to Cerebral Palsy Guide, people with cerebral palsy are generally expected to live as long as people without the condition, depending upon severity. Those with cerebral palsy grow up and often go on to lead lives similar to those without the condition and working across a range of industries. The most recognisable people who have cerebral palsy are most likely those we see on our TV screens.  

Everyday Health have put a list together of 9 famous people with cerebral palsy, do you recognise them? And how do you feel they are represented in the media? 

  1. Josh Blue – Josh is an American comedian who is probably most famous for winning the American reality TV show Last Comic Standing in 2006. 
  2. Abbey Nicole Curran – Abbey became the first Miss USA contestant with a disability in 2008 and has since gone on to become the found of the Miss You Can Do It Pageant for young girls with additional needs. 
  3. Dan Keplinger – Dan is an artist and motivational speaker who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. He featured in the 2000 Oscar nominatedKing Gimp. 
  4. Geri Jewell – Geri is an actress, comedian, author, and motivational speaker. She has starred in NBC’s The Facts of Life and HBO’s Deadwood. She has also written an autobiography called I’m Walking as Straight as I Can. 
  5. Christy Brown – Christy was a poet, author and painter and is proablymost famous for his 1954 autobiography My Left Foot, he was later portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis in a movie of the same title. 
  6. RJ Mitte – RJ is an actor, producer, model, and activist and is most famous for his role in Breaking Bad as Walter Jr. He has also spoken out against bullying and in 2018 hosted the annual Runway of Dreams Foundation gala. 
  7. Bonner Paddock – Bonner is an athlete and advocate. In 2008 he became the first person with cerebral palsy to climb Mount Kilimanjaro unassisted and became the first person with cerebral palsy to complete the iron man triathlon in 2012. He has written about his adventures in his memoir One More Step. 
  8. Jhamak Ghimere – Jhamak is a Nepali writer who was born with cerebral palsy and writes with her left foot. In 2011, she was awarded the Madan Puraskar prize for her autobiography Jiwan Kada Ki Phool (variously translated as Is Life a Thorn or Flower? and A Flower in the Midst of Thorns). 
  9. Maysoon Zayid – Maysoon is a comedian and activist. She has appear in TEDWomen Talk in 2013 talking about growing up with cerebral palsy and has been invited to be a regular contributor to the TV show Countdown With Keith Olbermann. 


What are the causes of cerebral palsy? 

According to the NHS, cerebral palsy is caused by a problem with the brain which can occur before, during or after birth. Although the exact cause is never clear, it is often due to either the brain being damaged or not developing properly. 

Problems before birth – the NHS say that here cerebral palsy is caused by problems that affect the baby’s developed with in the womb. This could be: 

  • Damage to the baby’s brain due to a lack of oxygen or blood supply, this is known as periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) 
  • An infection from the baby’s mother these can include: cytomegalovirus, rubella, chickenpox or toxoplasmosis 
  • A stroke, this can happen when there is bleeding in the baby’s brain or they have limited blood being supplied to the brain 
  • The unborn baby suffers an injury to their head 

Problems during & after birth – according to the NHS damage can sometime be caused to the baby’s brain during or shortly after birth. This can be caused by: 

  • The baby’s brain not being supplied with enough oxygen during a difficult birth 
  • The baby’s brain is infected with infections such as meningitis 
  • The baby suffers a serious head injury 
  • A significantly low blood sugar level 
  • The baby suffers a stroke 

In addition to this the NHS also states that there are circumstances, which can increase the risk of a baby developing cerebral palsy. These include: 

  • Being born prematurely – babies born at 32 weeks or earlier have a particularly high risk 
  • A low weight a birth 
  • Being born as a twin, triplet etc 
  • The mother of the baby drinking alcohol, smoking or taking drugs during pregnancy 


Can cerebral palsy be treated? 

The NHS say there is currently no known cure for cerebral palsy, although there are treatments available to help people with the condition become as active and independent as possible. People with the condition can work with medical professionals and help them create a care plan to meet their needs, which can be reassessed when these needs change. 

Some of the treatments suggested by the NHS include: 

  • Physiotherapy 
  • Speech and language therapy 
  • Occupational therapy 
  • Medicine 
  • Surgery 


Could you be entitled to make a cerebral palsy negligence claim? 

If you or your child has suffered medical negligence relating to cerebral palsy, our medical negligence experts are here to help and have helped people in a similar situation. In the past we have helped many patients claim compensation as a result of cerebral palsy. 

Concerned about your medical treatment?

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