Types of Cerebral Palsy

Over 750,000 people in the US suffer from a group of conditions collectively known as cerebral palsy or CP. Cerebral palsy affects a person’s ability to control his or her movements. The disorder has less to do with the health of the person’s muscles than with faulty communication between his or her brain, muscles, and nerves. Cerebral palsy is categorized info four specific types:

  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
  • Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Each form of cerebral palsy ranges in severity and may be associated with additional conditions, such as mental impairment and seizures.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy affects over three quarters of all cerebral palsy patients. It is distinguished by tightness in the muscles; this tightness can cause the patient’s movements to be jerky and abrupt. When diagnosing spastic cerebral palsy, a doctor will determine which limbs are being affected:

  • Spastic diplegia – patients have reduced muscle control in either both of their arms or both of their legs.
  • Spastic quadriplegia – patients have reduced muscle control in their arms and their legs.
  • Spastic hemiplegia – patients experience problems controlling movement on one side of the body.
  • Spastic monoplegia – patients lack muscle control in one arm or one leg. This form of spastic cerebral palsy is rare.
  • Spastic triplegia – patients have reduced muscle control in three of their limbs. This form of spastic cerebral palsy, like spastic monoplegia, is quite rare.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Patients with ataxic cerebral palsy have little muscle tone in the affected limbs. These patients’ movements are unsteady and are often characterized as wobbly, unbalanced, and shaky. Ataxic cerebral palsy interferes with a patient’s ability to balance and his or her depth perception. This form of cerebral palsy is relatively rare, affecting only five to ten percent of all patients.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Damage to the basal ganglia (masses in the brain that regulate movement) may cause athetoid cerebral palsy. Patients with athetoid cerebral palsy move continuously and involuntarily, often writhing and squirming. Fear, emotional stress, and excitement may aggravate the condition, while rest and soothing surroundings may calm it. Patients with athetoid cerebral palsy often have difficulty speaking. Athetoid cerebral palsy is sometimes referred to as dyskinetic cerebral palsy, and affects between 10 and 20 percent of all cerebral palsy patients.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

One in five cerebral palsy patients exhibit symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy. In most cases, a patient will be diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy initially, but will begin to exhibit signs of either athetoid or ataxic cerebral palsy as a toddler.

Cerebral Palsy Lawsuits

Cerebral palsy may occur as a result of medical negligence on the part of the doctor, nursing staff, or other health care professionals. If medical malpractice has injured your child you may be able to seek financial compensation by filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit. Contact a lawyer today to learn more about your legal rights.

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