Types of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy describes several disorders that can occur in the first years of life, causing problem in a child’s ability to coordinate body movements. The symptoms of cerebral palsy in these different disorders can vary, but all are caused by damage to the part of the brain that controls movement. Such damage can occur during the delivery process.

Children with cerebral palsy symptoms can experience a mixed form of the disease, in which more than one type is present. The most common form of mixed cerebral palsy symptoms is spasticity plus athetoid movements.

Spastic cerebral palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common form of the disease, affecting approximately 70 to 80% of sufferers. Children with spastic cerebral palsy have high muscle tension, causing stiffness that can make movement difficult or awkward.

The different types of spastic cerebral palsy are described by the various parts of the body affected by these symptoms:

Spastic diplegia—symptoms appear in both legs
Spastic hemiplegia—symptoms on just one side of the body
Spastic quadriplegia—symptoms are present in the entire body

Athetoid cerebral palsy

Athetoid cerebral palsy (or dyskenetic cerebral palsy) affects about 10 to 20% of children who suffer from this condition. Patients with athetoid cerebral palsy experience slow, uncontrollable movements which can affect the hands, arms, feet or legs. When these cerebral palsy symptoms affect the face or tongue, they can cause difficulty speaking. This form of birth injury is also known as extrapyramidal cerebral palsy.

Ataxic cerebral palsy

Ataxic cerebral palsy causes difficulty with balance and depth perception. Patients who suffer from this type of cerebral palsy may have trouble walking, undertaking quick movements or employing fine motor skills, such as writing. They may also have trouble controlling their hands or arms when reaching for an object. Approximately 5 to 10% of patients with the disorder experience ataxic cerebral palsy symptoms.


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