Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity
Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of cerebral palsy vary for each child. Symptoms may change over time, and may be affected by other medical conditions. Your child may experience the following:

  • Difficulty with fine motor tasks, such as writing, buttoning shirts and using scissors.

  • Earlier than usual development of hand preference, or the tendency to use either the right or left hand more often.

  • Hypertonia or increased muscle tone. Your baby may seem rigid or stiff.

  • Hypotonia or decreased muscle tone. Your baby may seem overly relaxed, flaccid or "floppy."

  • Impaired motor development or developmental delay. Your baby may be slow to roll over, smile, sit, crawl or walk.

  • Involuntary movements, such as uncontrollable writhing motion of the hands, or drooling.

  • Retention of Moro reflex after age 6 months. The Moro reflex occurs when a baby is held on its back and tilted with the legs above the head. The baby usually extends its arms in what looks like an embrace.

  • Trouble maintaining balance or walking.

  • Unusual posture or a tendency to favor one side of the body.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Pediatric Brain Center

Child and Adolescent Neurology Clinic
1825 Fourth St., Fifth Floor, 5A
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-7596
Fax: (415) 353-2400
Appointment information

Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery (NICN)
1975 Fourth St., Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1565
Fax: (415) 353-1202