Types of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is a birth injury that happens to the brain at birth or just before birth. Because the injury involves the brain and because the brain is still often a mystery to several doctors, cerebral palsy can manifest in a number of different ways. Some children have more trouble with seizures than spasticity, or some children have intellectual disabilities while other children do not. If you’re interested in learning about the different forms of cerebral palsy, take a look at the different ways that cerebral palsy can affect children.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Considered the least-diagnosed and rarest form of cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy only affects fine motor skills for the child. The child may have balance issues related to the inner ear and therefore have a speech impediment, but generally the child has a hard time doing anything from tying shoelaces, to buttoning a shirt, or using a pencil. As the child tries to focus more on the finite skill, he or she may have a tremor as the muscles are taxed by the effort.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Considered the most common form of cerebral palsy, the child is typically intellectually adept and feels trapped inside his or her body. The child often experiences drooling and a lack of control with oral muscles, and likewise a lack of control with muscles all over the body which differ in tone (flabby or tight) and may often contract involuntarily.

Choreoathetoid Cerebral Palsy

Choreoathetoid cerebral palsy is another name for athetoid cerebral palsy, and is defined by involuntary twitching, sometimes called choriform.

Diplegic Cerebral Palsy

Also referred to as spastic diplegia and Little’s Disease, this is the first form of cerebral palsy that was ever scientifically diagnosed and named. This is when the child is affected by tense muscles and muscle spasticity only from the lower muscle groups –the upper body isn’t affected at all. Sometimes the legs cross at the knees–called scissoring–and make walking difficult.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is another name for athetoid cerebral palsy. Sometimes dyskinetic cerebral palsy is a name given to a form of the brain injury originating from bilirubin encephalopathy or hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy

Dystonic cerebral palsy is a name given to describe a form of cerebral palsy that is mostly related to abnormal muscular movement. Dystonia is when the muscles are spastic or when they move involuntarily in slow, writhing movements. This also could be used to describe variation in muscle tone, such as a child having some floppy muscles and some extremely tight muscles.

Epidural Hematoma Cerebral Palsy

While several types of cerebral palsy describe the disease based on the symptoms that the child has, epidural hematoma cerebral palsy is one of the types describing how the child got cerebral palsy. In the case of epidural hematoma cerebral palsy, the child got cerebral palsy from a stroke, likely at birth.

Grade 1 IVH Cerebral Palsy

When a patient experiences an intercranial hemorrhage, doctors rate the grade of the hemorrhage to asses the long-term prognosis. A grade 1 IVH means that the patient likely experienced an amount of bleeding experienced in the ventricles and is not likely to experience many long-term effects. When a child has Grade 1 IVH cerebral palsy, it means that child may have some developmental setbacks, but he or she generally has a mild form of cerebral palsy that can be overcome with a few different forms of therapy.

Hemiparetic or Hemiphlegic Cerebral Palsy

Often developed from a stroke, hemiparetic cerebral palsy is when a child experiences muscle stiffness or spasticity only on one side of the body. This child may have problems with one leg, or with an arm and a hand, and may also experience speech problems. Children with this form of the disability also are prone to more seizures than other forms of cerebral palsy.

Hypertonic or Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy

Hyper- and hypotonic cerebral palsy are diagnosed earlier than other forms of the disability because the symptoms appear faster. Babies with this form of the disability are floppy, often described like a rag doll. They put up little resistance to parents moving limbs, they generally don’t sit up or lift muscle groups at all, and when they do sit up, they have a very hard time holding up their head.

Non-spastic (Extrapyramidial) Cerebral Palsy

Another form of ataxic cerebral palsy, this manifestation of the disability involves problems with motor skills, speech problems, and respiratory problems. While the child has trouble with these functions and muscle groups, the muscles do not involuntarily contract or writhe.

Periventricular Leukomalacia Cerebral Palsy

This form of cerebral palsy is primarily brain related, and less muscle-related. While children with this form of the disability still have problems with muscle groups, this is where the children mostly exhibit intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, and often develop epilepsy. Children with this form of the disability are prone to more seizures than other forms of cerebral palsy.

Spastic Quadriplegia

Also referred to as tetraplegic cerebral palsy, this is a form of the disease where the child has no control of any arm or leg movement. Children with this form of the disease have a more severe case of it and take much longer to go through developmental milestones such as crawling and walking. Some children with this disease also experience an incredible amount of pain which precludes them from wanting to learn how to walk.

Subdural Hematoma Cerebral Palsy

Also a form of cerebral palsy involving an intracranial hemorrhage (IVH), this form of cerebral palsy is often formed from a direct head injury, such as dropping the baby or any other blunt force to the baby’s head. The tiny veins between the surface of the brain and the dura stretch and tear, collecting blood and causing a brain injury.