Cerebral palsy is a serious birth injury broken down into four different types based on the limbs affected and the extent of the condition. Cerebral palsy generally results from a brain injury. It is a lifelong injury that can affect all aspects of a child’s development. Children diagnosed with cerebral palsy have developmental delays, limited mobility, and other health problems associated with the condition. Prompt diagnosis of the cause of cerebral palsy is essential, and the sooner the diagnosis occurs, the sooner treatment can commence.
The Four Types of Cerebral Palsy
Birth injuries can impact an individual for life. Often, they require long-term care and costly medical treatment. Cerebral palsy is one of the most common types of birth injury, broken down into four categories.
The four types of cerebral palsy are described largely by physical characteristics but may also include cognitive/mental deficits. The four types of cerebral palsy include:
- Spastic – Spastic cerebral palsy is the most prevalent form of CP diagnosed in the United States. Approximately 80% of people diagnosed with cerebral palsy have spastic CP. Stiff muscles and mobility difficulties caused by significantly increased muscle tone are symptoms of spastic CP. There are multiple types of Spastic CP, including:
- Spastic diplegia – This bilateral form of cerebral palsy affects both legs and can affect both arms to varying degrees. Muscle stiffness within the legs is common, while the arms may have no signs of CP, or are unaffected.
- Spastic Hemiplegia – This form of unilateral cerebral palsy affects one side of the body, impacting both the arm and leg on that side.
- Spastic Quadriplegia – This affects all four limbs, the face, and the trunk. Individuals with spastic quadriplegia are unable to walk and often have life-limiting intellectual disabilities. They may also suffer seizures and frequently have vision, hearing, and speech difficulties.
- Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy – Individuals with dyskinetic CP have significant difficulty controlling arm, foot, and leg movement. It is often characterized by rapid, jerky movements of the limbs, and may also cause difficulty with speech and eating.
- Ataxic Cerebral Palsy – Ataxic CP negatively impacts balance and coordination. This affects the ability to walk, write, speak, and complete other basic tasks.
- Mixed Cerebral Palsy – Mixed cerebral palsy is a combination of other forms of CP. The most common combination is spastic-dyskinetic CP.
Recognizing the early signs is essential for early intervention. Signs of cerebral palsy include difficulty lifting the head, “flopping,” stiffness, inability to move and the child may arch his or her back to push away when cradled. These classic signs should be promptly investigated by a medical professional.