Cerebral Palsy Program

What is the Cerebral Palsy Program?

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a general term for when a person has permanent differences in how they move and control their muscles (motor function). The differences are caused by an injury to a child’s developing brain. The brain injury can happen before, during or after birth. The injury does not change (it is non-progressive), but the effects can change over time and worsen as children grow. CP affects a child’s strength, muscle tone and motor control.

There are also many related conditions that can be seen in children with CP. This can include difficulties with gross and fine motor skills, cognitive abilities, and speech and language development. It is important to talk to your medical provider(s) about what related conditions your child may have. A diagnosis of CP does not guarantee your child will have related conditions.

Although CP cannot be cured, treatment can help your child move more easily, have improved function and feel more comfortable.

Seattle Children’s takes an active approach to caring for children with CP so they can be as healthy and functional as possible. We offer nonsurgical treatments and surgical options for children with CP from our team of experts in several specialties including:

What’s special about Seattle Children’s Cerebral Palsy Program?

  • Every child with CP is different. We follow best available evidence and established guidelines. We customize care to help your child and family manage CP and to give your child the best possible function and quality of life now and as they grow.

    Our specialized teams offer a full range of treatments including therapies, bracing (orthotics), medicines and surgery.

  • Experts from across Seattle Children’s work together to make sure your child has a full evaluation and receives complete, coordinated care. Depending on your child’s needs, our team may include providers, surgeons and therapists from multiple specialties and programs.

  • We offer several groups at Seattle Children’s to support families and caregivers of children with CP and other special health and developmental needs.

    • CP Caregiver Support Group: Our Cerebral Palsy Caregiver Support Group (PDF) provides parents and caregivers with an opportunity to meet monthly to connect with others who care for children with CP.
    • CP Family Advisory Board: Parents and caregivers of children with CP and adults living with CP meet regularly with members of the Cerebral Palsy Program team to provide feedback and share their valuable experiences and ideas aimed at improving care for patients with CP and the patient and family experience at Seattle Children’s.  
    • Parent Support Program: Our Parent Support Program (PDF) (Spanish) connects you with another parent or caregiver who has had similar experiences caring for children with special health needs. Connections primarily take place over the phone and provide emotional and nonjudgmental support, a sense of community, and practical information and community resources.
    • Sibshops: Seattle Children's Sibshops celebrate the many contributions made by siblings of kids with special health and developmental needs.
  • Our team actively conducts research to learn more about interventions related to CP. A few examples of our research efforts include:

What services do you offer?

Once your child is diagnosed with CP, your child’s provider will need to refer your child to the Cerebral Palsy Program at Seattle Children’s. Staff members at Seattle Children’s will use best available evidence and established guidelines, when available, to schedule your child for the right services at the right time. You will complete an intake form so our providers can tailor their approach to your child’s specific needs. Children who are new to the hospital or just received a diagnosis of CP may be eligible for the CP Program's New Patient Clinic, a one time visit that allows both the Neurodevelopmental and Rehabilitation Medicine teams to evaluate your child and determine the best care plan with your goals in mind. If your child is eligible for this clinic, someone from the scheduling team will contact you to make the appointment.

Once enrolled in the program, you will continue to regularly see medical providers, surgeons and other team members, like therapists and orthotists. It is very important that you continue to follow up with all your child’s providers to ensure they are getting the right treatments at the right time. Your providers will contribute to your child’s specific care plan, a document that outlines your child’s medical and surgical history, your goals and the steps to reach those goals.

You can access MyChart, call us during regular business hours or email us at any time to connect with staff members who can answer questions and get you support. This includes questions about your child’s care plan or requests to review the plan.

Scheduling an Appointment with the Cerebral Palsy Program

  • If your child has CP and you would like to enroll in the Cerebral Palsy Program, talk to one of your child’s providers to request a referral to the program. If your child is eligible for CP New Patient Clinic, someone from scheduling will contact you to help you make the appointment.
  • How to schedule an appointment at Seattle Children’s.
  • If you already have an appointment, learn more about how to prepare.
  • Learn about Cerebral Palsy Program resources such as useful links, videos and recommended reading for you and your family.

Who’s on the team?

Our team features specialists from these programs or clinics who work in collaboration with each other to care for the unique needs of children, teens and young adults with CP:

Some of the providers who treat patients with CP include:

Resources for Patients and Families

Contact Us

Contact the Cerebral Palsy Program at 206-987-0199 for questions or more information. If your child has a diagnosis of CP and you would like to be enrolled in the program, please have your child’s medical provider send a referral to the Cerebral Palsy Program at Seattle Children’s. Please ensure your provider specifically states in the referral that it is for the Cerebral Palsy Program.

Providers, see how to refer a patient.

Telemedicine at Seattle Children’s

You may be offered a telehealth (virtual) appointment. Learn more.

Paying for Care

Learn about paying for care at Seattle Children’s, including insurance coverage, billing and financial assistance.