Cerebral Palsy Timeline

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Efforts to find medical treatments, or create more opportunities for people with Cerebral Palsy, have been a long road paved with ups and downs. Through the years, however, small discoveries have given way to bigger opportunities, and advancements have ensured those efforts will continue into the future.


1800 – 1850

1810 – Dr. William John Little, the first person to study Cerebral Palsy, was born.

1836 – Dr. Georg Friedrich Louis Stromeyer corrects William John Little’s clubfoot sparking Little’s interest in a career that is devoted to impairment childhood impairments for others.

1843 – Dr. William John Little begins lecturing on spastic rigidity.


1850 – 1900

1853 – Dr. William John Little publishes “On the Nature and Treatment of the Deformities of the Human Frame.”

1861 – Dr. William John Little establishes the classic definition of (spastic) Cerebral Palsy in a lecture to the Obstetrical Society of London.

1889 – Sir William Osler publishes “The Cerebral Palsies of Children,” beginning wide use of the term Cerebral Palsy.

1891 – Dr. Sigmund Freud, with co-author Oscar Rie, publishes “Clinical Study of the Unilateral Cerebral Paralyses of Children.”

1893 – Dr. Sigmund Freud publishes “On the Knowledge About Cerebral Diplegias of the Childhood Age (in connection with Little’s Disease).”

1897 – Dr. Sigmund Freud states Cerebral Palsy might be caused by fetal development instead of oxygen starvation at birth in infantile cerebral paralysis.


1900 – 1950

1937 – Dr. Winthrop Phelps founds the Children’s Rehabilitation Institute, a pioneering institution located in Baltimore, MD and dedicated solely for the treatment and care of children with Cerebral Palsy.

1932 – Harry Jennings, engineer, builds the first modern folding wheelchair.

1948 – The organization known today as United Cerebral Palsy Association is formed.

1949 – The National Institute for Mental Health is established.


2000 – present

2002 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct first U.S. multistate study on prevalence of Cerebral Palsy.

2009 – National Institute of Health yearly funding for Cerebral Palsy totals $29 million.