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Did Your Newborn Suffer Cerebral
Palsy or Another Brain Injury Before
or During Labor and Delivery?

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Our Birth Brain Injury Resource Guide

the guide

Get a FREE guide of resources available throughout Ohio to children and families of children who were born with brain injuries.

Our guide can help you build a foundation of knowledge and tools that will help you help your child
now and in the future.

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Signs and Symptoms of Cognitive Impairment in Cerebral Palsy

Cognitive impairment can afflict 30-50% of people with cerebral palsy. Cognition represents intellectual abilities such as awareness, perception, decision making, comprehension, language, learning, memory, emotions, and attention span. Because cerebral palsy is due to a brain injury, both motor skills and thought processes can be affected. There are associated symptoms with cerebral palsy's cognitive issues. Psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, and moodiness may occur. Behavioral and sleep disturbances are commonplace.

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The same brain insult that results in the muscle dysfunction found in CP can result in intellectual dysfunction. The cognitive difficulties may be difficult to detect at first, but often the parents will notice subtle changes or lack of normal responses such as smiling are absent or different. The parents sense that something else is wrong. Normal responses to the environment might be delayed or absent. The child may not seem interested in people or activities. They might not respond to sounds, or a parent's voice like other babies do.

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Signs of impairment are the inability to focus, not recognizing noises, poor memory, fast to anger, not able to express thoughts or process information, delayed language, odd interactions with others, distractible, and not speaking or poor word selection. Blindness or hearing loss can exacerbate existing cognitive deficits.

Behavior is one cognitive issue that may present under times of stress. Acting out may occur because the child perceives he or she is not keeping up with peers. Feeling misunderstood or out of place are common reasons for behavioral challenges and can lead to low self-esteem. The ability to communicate in an understandable and interactive fashion may be impaired. Short sentences and simplistic words might be used, or they may need visual instructions to communicate.

In order to function properly, the child with CP needs to understand what is going on with his or her body. Complex tasks are difficult and handling simple tasks in succession may be difficult also. Difficulty learning and not becoming literate are signs of the cognitive deficits of CP. Because the sensory systems such as hearing may be damaged, a person with CP may not be able to process what is being said. Lack of solid and consistent memory is another sign of cognitive impairment.