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Wolfson Children's Hospital Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity

Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity

Cerebral Palsy is a group of disorders related to the development of movement and motor control, posture, and muscle spasticity. The earlier in life a child’s cerebral palsy symptoms are detected, the better their care options and quality of life.

Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity Center

Wolfson Children’s Hospital provides pediatric neuroscience services in partnership with Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville and the University of Florida College of Medicine, Jacksonville. Learn more

Early Detection Matters

Cerebral Palsy is the most common childhood physical disability in the US. While it can be difficult to assess a baby’s motor control, strides have been made in diagnostic tools and imaging.

Studies show that early diagnosis for the musculoskeletal complications of cerebral palsy can prevent the onset of hip dislocation, scoliosis and contracture — hardening of the muscles. An early Cerebral Palsy diagnosis, ideally before the age of 9 months, allows access to specific spasticity treatments and support, increasing the efficacy and quality of life for your child.

Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity Center

Spasticity creates chronic limitation in normal movements and impairs day to day activities. It is commonly accompanied by some form of chronic pain. It can impair normal body growth, produce contractures and deformities. Early interventions provide better benefits than do delayed interventions. Each child has a different form of spasticity. Because of that, our team evaluates each child and then defines which will be the best least invasive treatment.

The Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity Center at the Stys Neuroscience Institute brings together experts from different medical specialties. Physiatrists (physical rehabilitation physician specialists), neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons and rehabilitation therapists provide the highest level of coordinated care to make sure every aspect of your child's condition is cared for. Wolfson Children’s evaluates and treats infants, children and adults with spasticity, posture and motor skill impairment due to Cerebral Palsy and other neuro-cognitive, motor control and movement disorders.

Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity Center

University of Florida College of Medicine, Jacksonville Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville Wolfson Children’s Hospital

Wolfson Children’s Hospital provides pediatric neuroscience services in partnership with Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville and the University of Florida College of Medicine, Jacksonville. Learn more

Wolfson Children's Hospital Cerebral Palsy Treatments

Why Wolfson

Wolfson Children’s Hospital has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the 50 best children’s hospitals in the nation for neurology and neurosurgery. We also have the only orthopedic surgeons in the region who have additional pediatric training. Our team is involved in research and clinical trials and provides treatment options based on the latest medical advancements.

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Working Together for your Child


Our expert team conducts a spasticity clinic several times a week for ongoing spasticity management and care. During these clinics, pediatric physiatrists, specialized nurse practitioners, social workers and physical and occupational therapists collaborate to evaluate and treat children from throughout the state and beyond.

Monthly Team Conferences

Our team meets monthly to review patient progress and discuss individual treatment plans.

What are the signs and symptoms of Cerebral Palsy in babies?

The physical symptoms of Cerebral Palsy can be difficult to detect in an infant. However, diagnostic advances have made it easier to spot the signs in babies under 12 months old, when the brain and nervous system are the most plastic and easiest to rehabilitate. It’s common for parents to recognize something is off before the doctor does, so any concerns you have about your baby’s development should be brought to your pediatrician’s or family practitioner’s attention.

These include:

  • a delay in motor control, such as learning to hold and steady their head
  • poor muscle tone or stiffness in their joints
  • delayed milestones for movement such as rolling over or sitting up
  • limp, uncontrolled movement on one or both sides of the body
  • fidgety, spontaneous movements that don’t develop into fine motorcontrol over time

How early can cerebral palsy be detected in babies?

Risk factors for Cerebral Palsy can often be identified before birth such as in pregnancies with a high-risk of premature labor, low-birth weight, or complications that could impact how much oxygen the baby’s brain receives during birth. Where there is concern, formal assessments can begin before five months old, using diagnostic tools such as the General Movement Assessment, HINE neurological exam and MRI imaging.

Researchers now discourage waiting for a developmental delay to exist before assessing risk, because missing milestones may mean it too late to rehabilitate that skill.

Child with Cerebral Palsy

How is spasticity treated?

Most children with Cerebral Palsy have spasticity as the main motor disorder, which is classified by how and where their body is affected: one or both sides, and if their movements are slow, spastic, or uncoordinated. Spasticity is challenging to rehabilitate, can interfere with sleep and cognitive development, and cause pain.

Our Spasticity Management and Rehabilitation Team (SMART) Clinic was designed for children with neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy. Care is customized and includes occupational therapy to address sensory and independence skills, physical therapy to achieve movement skills, and speech-language therapy to improve communication and eating challenges. Because Cerebral Palsy can vary greatly from patient to patient, what your child needs will be unique.

Treatments We Offer

Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy and other spasticity conditions, our expert team provides an array of treatments to help you manage the condition as your child grows.

Non-surgical treatment

  • Rehabilitation therapy plays a large role for many children with cerebral palsy and spasticity to help improve their communication, eating, movement and activities of everyday life
  • Medicine can help relieve muscle contractions and ease pain and spasms
  • Botox, electrical stimulation, constraint therapy, bracing and casting, and other treatments are used

Surgical treatment

  • Intrathecal baclofen pump
  • Minimally invasive selective dorsal rhizotomy
  • Pediatric orthopedic surgery, such as tendon-lengthening; tendon transfer; osteotomy of the femur; tibia or foot; and bone fusion
Wolfson Children's Hospital High Tech Neurosurgery

High-Tech Neurosurgery

Wolfson Children's is a national leader in both minimally invasive and highly complex neurological surgeries. Our state-of-the-art operating rooms are specially equipped to bring MRI to the patient during surgery. Surgeons can use the sophisticated imaging equipment during procedures to precisely guide and verify intricate repairs, all leading to better outcomes.

Our Team

At Wolfson Children’s, physical medicine and rehabilitation physiatrists work together with pediatric orthopedic specialists, neurologists, neurosurgeons and rehab teams. Physiatrists are doctors who treat the whole person, not just individual aspects of the condition. They design treatment plans to help your child have the most independence in activities of daily living and improved quality of life.


The Cerebral Palsy and Spasticity Center serves the North Florida and South Georgia region and beyond. Your child may receive care from specialists at Wolfson Children's, UF Health Pediatric Multispecialty Center and Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville, all located at or next to the Wolfson Children's main campus in downtown Jacksonville.

Contact Us

Facsimile/Scan Contact or Referral: 904.633.0931