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Types of Cerebral Palsy & How It Affects Children

July 6, 2020 Pegalis Law Group

Examining the Types of Cerebral Palsy & How It Affects Children

Commonly referred to as CP, cerebral palsy is a condition characterized by a lack of body movement coordination. Cerebral refers to the cerebrum, the part of the brain responsible for motor function development. Palsy refers to paralysis of voluntary body movement. Cerebral palsy in children is usually caused by abnormal brain development or an injury to a developing brain. There are four main types of cerebral palsy: spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed.

The effects of cerebral palsy on your child depend on the type and severity they are diagnosed with, as each type impacts various parts of the body. Many children with cerebral palsy also have issues with vision, hearing, speech, muscle tone, posture, and gait. Symptoms will vary and may change throughout a person’s lifetime. This condition is non-progressive and does not affect life expectancy, although your child’s motor skills may improve or decline over time, depending on their care.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

The most common type of cerebral palsy is spastic CP. Caused by damage to the brain’s motor cortex, spastic cerebral palsy often causes exaggerated movements, awkward reflexes, stiffness, tightened muscles or joints, and an abnormal gait.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Athetoid cerebral palsy only affects about 10% of the children diagnosed with CP. Caused by damage to the brain’s basal ganglia or cerebellum, this type of CP often causes problems with posture, floppiness in body limbs, and a stiff or rigid body.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic cerebral palsy is rare, but it affects a person’s ability to speak and spread their feet apart correctly when walking. Caused by damage to the brain’s cerebellum, ataxic CP also causes issues with depth perception, shakiness, and tremors.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

If the damage to the developing brain affects multiple regions, your child could be diagnosed with mixed cerebral palsy. This type of cerebral palsy is rare, but the symptoms may include a combination of spastic and athetoid cerebral palsy.

Cerebral Palsy Is Also Classified by Affected Body Limbs

Cerebral palsy is also classified according to how many limbs are affected. If it’s only one limb, it’s called monoplegia. Two limbs is called diplegia, which usually affects the legs. Triplegia affects three limbs, while quadriplegia affects all four limbs. Hemiplegia affects only one side of the body, while double hemiplegia affects all four limbs but one side of the body more than the other.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy, and Are There Any Treatments?

It’s estimated some cerebral palsy cases are caused by birth injuries due to medical negligence, including the physician’s failure to recognize the signs of fetal distress during labor or their inability to respond appropriately. Recent studies indicate that a whole-body or brain cooling treatment may help prevent the damage to the brain that results in cerebral palsy. Called hypothermia treatment, this cooling treatment is given to newborns who suffered oxygen deprivation during the birth process. When compared to traditional intensive care, this treatment has been shown to reduce the risk of death or the infant developing cerebral palsy and other cognitive impairments.

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For nearly 50 years, Pegalis Law Group, LLC has represented clients with personal injury and medical negligence cases across New York City. Our firm remains an advocate for creating public awareness about the importance of being a proactive patient. Please visit our website and follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to learn more about how you can be proactive about your healthcare.