Knowing the Different Types of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that often develops due to a birth injury in which the brain is damaged due to trauma or lack of oxygen. Because it can manifest in a number of different ways, cerebral palsy is categorized as a number of different types, the most common of which in children in the United States is spastic cerebral palsy. Let’s take a moment to explore and understand the different ways that cerebral palsy can appear after a birth injury.
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
A child with spastic cerebral palsy will generally show signs of tight muscles in different areas of the body and an inability to relax them. The child will have difficulty controlling movement in their limbs, and they’ll likely have poor coordination skills, as well as difficulty with balance. Talking and eating may also be problematic. Spastic cerebral palsy may manifest in a few different ways, including:
- Hemiplegia – The muscles on one side of the body are affected.
- Diplegia – Both legs are affected.
- Monoplegia – One arm or one leg is affected.
- Quadriplegia – Both arms and legs are all affected. In most cases, the muscles controlling the esophagus, tongue, and mouth are also affected.
- Triplegia – Three limbs are affected (e.g., both legs and one arm, or one leg and both arms).
Non-Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Slightly less common, there are also a number of non-spastic forms of cerebral palsy, including:
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
Marked by fluctuating muscle tone that varies between tight and loose, there are actually two types of dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Though this type of cerebral palsy isn’t spastic, it can be marked by jerky, uncontrolled movements that may be slow or rapid. These may occur in any number of areas of the body, but they’re most likely to happen in the hands, face, neck, arms, feet, legs, and occasionally the torso. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is divided into two subcategories: athetoid and dystonic cerebral palsy:
- Athetoid cerebral palsy – Also called hyperkinetic cerebral palsy, in this case, the child’s muscles will be limp and relaxed during sleep, and there may be involuntary writing or jerks. In some cases, this affects the muscles of the mouth and can cause drooling, issues with speaking, choking when attempting to suck, problems with eating and drinking, as well as unusual facial expressions.
- Dystonic cerebral palsy – Generally, the child’s neck and body will be held in a constantly stiff position.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
The rarest type of cerebral palsy, a child suffering from ataxic cerebral palsy will generally exhibit abnormal body movements that affect the hands, torso, arms, and legs. The most common problems associated with ataxic cerebral palsy include:
• Issues with balance.
• Problems making precise movements.
• Problems with coordination.
• Challenges with hand control.
Some Children Exhibit Signs of Multiple Types of Cerebral Palsy
Though we can generally separate cerebral palsy into these different types, some children exhibit symptoms of multiple types. For example, a child may have difficulty controlling their facial muscles, which doctors would usually diagnose as dyskinetic cerebral palsy. However, the same child might also have spastic legs, symptomatic of spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.
Some children are also affected by total body cerebral palsy, which may manifest in different ways for different muscle groups, or it may manifest uniformly. A child with total body cerebral palsy may have spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy, or dyskinetic cerebral palsy. They may also have a mixture of two or all three.
Caring for Different Cerebral Palsy Types
For some cerebral palsy types, a child may only need some physical therapy and/or occupational therapy to alleviate some of the stress on their muscles and to learn how to live with their disability. If the cerebral palsy is too severe, though, the child may need lifetime personal and medical care and assistance.
Because cerebral palsy is often associated a birth injury, it’s important to understand that a medical professional or institution may be responsible for your child’s condition. If this is the case, then you may have legal recourse so that you can get compensation for your child’s medical bills and other damages that have been incurred due to this injury. Contact us at Birth Injury Center today to schedule your free consultation.