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We care for patients with cerebral palsy in all life stages. To learn more about cerebral palsy treatment at UCLA Health, call 424-259-6593.

View Our Frequently Asked Questions

Young man with cerebral palsy sitting in a wheelchair and smiling

Do I need a referral to come to your clinic?

For Santa Monica location – patients with a managed care (HMO) insurance, including MediCal HMO or California Children’s Services (CCS), need to obtain an authorization before an initial appointment can be made. The authorization should to be made out to “UCLA Orthopaedics” for the Santa Monica location and “Orthopaedic Institute for Children” or “Orthopaedic Hospital” for the downtown locationSince we are an orthopaedic clinic, all initial consultations must include authorization for us to take x-rays if recommended by our physician. If you or your provider has questions regarding this requirement, please contact our office. While we gladly accept referrals from primary care physicians or specialists, all non-managed care patients may make an initial appointment without a referral.

What is the earliest a child with CP can be diagnosed?

A definite or suspect diagnosis is often possible in infancy. For some children with mild cerebral palsy, a definitive diagnosis may not be made until eighteen to 24 months.

What observations of my child should make me suspicious that he or she may not be developing normally?

The signs of developmental abnormality in early infancy include:

  • excessive irritability, especially with arching of the back or neck
  • over or under reactivity to environmental stimulation
  • difficulty with feeding or swallowing or choking when fed
  • delay in achieving head control, rolling, sitting, crawling or walking
  • performance of developmental milestones beyond the upper limit of normal time frames

What did I do wrong to have a child with cerebral palsy?

In most instances, it is very difficult to determine the exact cause of cerebral palsy. For many children, injury or damage to the brain may occur weeks before birth and is beyond the parents’ control. With the exception of exposure to alcohol, drugs or smoking during pregnancy, it is rare that any event or action on the part of the mother caused the child to have cerebral palsy.

Is cerebral palsy curable?

No. Cerebral palsy is not curable. That does not mean, however, that children with cerebral palsy cannot grow up to be functional, independent members of the community. The best long-term results are related to beginning therapy as early as the diagnosis is made. Therapy may include physical, occupational and speech therapy. Treatment interventions are designed to maximize function and allow for the child to interact with family, friends and community.

If cerebral palsy is not progressive, why does my child seem to have gotten worse as she gets older?

By its definition, cerebral palsy is not progressive, which means that the injury to the brain does not get worse over time. The symptoms of cerebral palsy may, however, appear to change as the child matures. This is because of the abnormal signals in the brain that cause the spasticity. As a child grows, the bones grow as well. A spastic muscle may not stretch and grow at the same rate as the normal bone. This results in the muscle getting tighter as the child grows, and joints that once seemed loose now appear tighter.

Why do my child’s bones seem to be twisting as she gets older?

Bones grow in response to the force of the muscles pulling on them. The injury to the brain impairs the brain’s ability to control muscle activity. This may result in an imbalance of muscle activity, with some muscles being more spastic and exerting more of a force the one that moves in the opposite direction. This may result in changes in the bone as it grows. Common bony deformities in cerebral palsy are turning in of the hips or knees.

Do you see adults with CP?

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition. While both of our locations evaluate and treat children with CP, our clinic in Santa Monica is a lifespan clinic. We see people with cerebral palsy regardless of their age, but all adult patients (>18 years) are seen at the Santa Monica location only.

I am an adult with CP and have had a sudden loss of function. Is this because of my CP?

Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder of the brain. While it is well-known that adults with cerebral palsy may experience the signs and symptoms of aging earlier than the unaffected population, a rapid change in muscle strength, sensation or overall function is not a sign of CP and should be evaluated by a physician.

I have not seen a doctor about my CP in years, but I notice it I harder for me to get around. Should I be concerned?

Recent research and our clinical experience have shown that adults with CP exhibit many of the signs and symptoms of aging sooner than their unaffected contemporaries. It is not uncommon for someone who was able to walk without equipment to choose to use a cane or a wheelchair for long distances when they are older. Depending upon the person and the degree of their impairment, these slow changes may begin in their 20s or 30s. Some of these problems may be respond to an individualized exercise program that strengthens muscles, increases cardiorespiratory endurance or increases muscle flexibility. The Center for Cerebral Palsy’s inter-disciplinary team can evaluate you and determine if your problems are amenable to therapy or other intervention to improve your quality of life.

What kind of insurance do you accept?

Center for Cerebral Palsy (CCP) - The Center for Cerebral Palsy accepts most insurance carriers, however, if your insurance requires you to have an authorization to come to UCLA or OIC (e.g. you have an HMO) you must obtain an authorization before making an appointment. If you have any questions regarding your referral, please call 424-259-6593 for our Santa Monica location and 213-741-8330 for our downtown location. To avoid problems on the day of your appointment, we must have a copy of your authorization and your insurance card before scheduling an appointment.
Please fax, or have your physician or insurance company fax a copy of the authorization to 424-259-6560 before calling for an appointment.

Luskin Orthopaedic Insititute for Children  (LuskinOIC) - The Luskin Orthopaedic Insititute for Children (LuskinOIC) accepts Fee-for-Service Medi-Cal, Managed Care (HMO) Medi-Cal, Medicare, Group Health (HMO) and Private Pay (PPO). If children do not have medical insurance and are in need of orthopaedic surgery, a financial screening can be conducted to determine if they are eligible for financial assistance. Please call 213-741-8330 to verify your insurance and identify requirements, deductibles and co-payments.