Types of Cerebral Palsy


Known as the least common form of cerebral palsy, only around five to 10 percent of those with Cerebral Palsy have this form of the disorder. Ataxia, which means lacking order and coordination, often affects only the motor skills of victims. As with many of the other forms of CP, it’s important to understand that no definitive cure exists and – while there are several different forms of treatment – none of them can fully resolve the symptoms of Ataxia.

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Athetoid Dystonic Dyskinetic

This specific type of Cerebral Palsy presents as abnormal muscular movements. Due to brain damage that took place in the basal ganglia, dystonia results in the muscles writhing, sleep interference, high energy expenditure, and malnutrition. In some cases, doctors refer to dystonic CP when they refer to variations in the muscle tone. For example, the child having either extremely tight muscles or else extremely floppy muscles.

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Occasionally referred to as “Little’s Disease,” this became the first form of CP that doctors ever diagnosed and named. Most commonly presenting as muscle spasticity or tense muscles and – in many cases – the lower part of the body fully paralyzed. For those cases where the legs cross at the knees, the medical community has coined a special term: scissoring. For many children, walking will not be possible without a special assistive device like a wheelchair.

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Epidural Hematoma

Considered a form of traumatic brain injury, epidural hematoma has the potential to lead to cerebral palsy due to the damage it causes the brain. Epidural hematoma’s are typically the result of a spontaneous hemorrhage and can have the unfortunate affect of severely damaging the motor skills of a newborn.

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Hypertonic and Hypotonic

Doctors have called this the most common form of cerebral palsy that a child can get, which has its advantages, but it’s still a form of CP, and it can be quite debilitating. You could characterize this form of CP as someone having stiff muscles and spasticity in the muscles. Spasticity means that certain muscles will be in continual contraction. This can interfere with your movement, speech or gait. Experts estimate that 80 percent of the cases within the United States are hypertonic cerebral palsy.

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Intracranial Hemorrhage-IVH

Sometimes infants will suffer a type of brain hemorrhaging before or shortly after their birth. This can negatively impact several parts of the brain responsible for the motor functioning within the brain. The medical community has come to call this intracranial hemorrhage or IVH for short. You can get this type of brain injury in four different levels, and the level will depend on the severity of the injury. When it comes to this type of bleeding, you have two different types. First, you have arterial bleeding, which leads to a loss of oxygen, and you may experience issues with getting blood to the heart. Second, you have what doctors call venous bleeding, which means that the hemorrhage hurts the veins that carry the blood back to the hurt. The risk of death become especially high when your child suffers bleeding in the brain stem.

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Non-spastic cerebral palsy is defined as when a child experiences unstable and weakened muscle tone. Your child will most likely experience jerky and sudden movements in the muscles. It can range anywhere from having loose muscles to having stiff muscles. The problem originates from brain where the child most likely suffered a birth injury that led to brain damage. You have two major types of classifications within this type of CP. You have athetoid CP and dyskinetic CP. You also have a rarer type known as ataxic CP. The first two account for over 20 percent of all the cases of CP within the United States.

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Periventricular Leukomalacia-PVL

A form of brain damage that has a direct impact on the white brain matter within the brain, periventricular leukomalacia harms the white matter within the brain. It results in the white matter either dying or decaying, depending on the circumstances. As a result of this, one part of the brain gets left as empty and fluid buildup results. Unfortunately, between 60 to 100 percent of all children who have PVL will also develop cerebral palsy. Spastic diplegia is the most common one to form up in most cases, but there’s also quadriplegia CP that can develop as well.

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Subdural Hematoma

As the blood accumulates outside of the brain, a dangerous amount of pressure builds on the skull, and this can result in different types of birth injury like cerebral palsy. In serious cases, people have even died as a result of subdural hematoma. Normally, this condition happens after a traumatic brain injury has taken place, and the consequences of it will continue to multiply with time.

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Hemiparetic Hemiplegic

Considered two separate forms of cerebral palsy, both forms come with the same types of disability. They’re similar in that only one side of the body will suffer. Doctors consider hemiplegic cerebral palsy more serious, however, because they have found that people will suffer total paralysis on one side of the body. Meanwhile, those with hemiparetic cerebral palsy will only experience muscle weakness or – alternatively – might have a milder form of paralysis on the affected side of the body.

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Treatment for a birth disorder is largely determined by the type of injury, diagnosis, and severity of the symptoms. For instance, a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy will assume a treatment plan that might include physical therapy, assistive devices, and medications. A child with Erb’s Palsy, on the other hand, will likely require only physical therapy for treatment.

Article Citations

  1. CDC
  2. Cerebral Palsy Foundation