Types of Cerebral Palsy

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There are four main types of CP:

These categories are determined by the primary effects of the condition, which will vary according to which area or areas of the brain were damaged.

  • Spastic CP is marked by stiff muscles and/or limited range of motion.
  • Dyskinetic CP presents as uncontrollable muscle movements.
  • Ataxic CP is characterized by impaired balance and/or coordination.
  • Mixed CP will have two or more of the former.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common, accounting for approximately 80% of all CP diagnoses. Patients with spastic CP have increased muscle tone, resulting in muscles that are stiff, with awkward movement. Spastic CP is further classified by what parts of the body are affected:

  • Spastic monoplegia: Affects only one limb, usually an arm.
  • Spastic hemiplegia/hemiparesis: Affects one side of the body, with the arm usually more affected than the leg.
  • Spastic diplegia/diparesis: Affects the lower half of the body. The muscles of the hips and/or legs are tight, resulting in difficulty walking. Legs may turn inward or cross at the knees.
  • Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis: Affects the entire body. This is the most severe form of CP, and is often accompanied by other developmental disabilities such as seizures, intellectual challenges, or difficulty with speech, hearing, or vision.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Patients with dyskinetic cerebral palsy have involuntary movements of their arms, hands, legs, and/or feet, making it difficult to sit or walk, for example. Movements may be slow or rapid, and muscle tone can vary from tight to too loose. Facial and mouth muscles may also be affected, resulting in difficulty speaking or swallowing. Dyskinetic CP may be further classified as athetoid (slow, writhing movements), choreoathetoid (irregular contractions), or dystonic (rigid posturing).

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

This is the least common form of cerebral palsy, affecting fewer than 10% of CP patients. Ataxic CP is characterized by a lack of fine motor control, which can lead to problems with balance, walking, speech, and other coordinated actions.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Patients can be diagnosed with more than one type of cerebral palsy. The most common type of mixed CP is a combination of spastic and dyskinetic.

If you think your child has or may have cerebral palsy because of something that happened at birth, please fill out the form on the Birth Injury Web official website..