Birth Injuries

The 4 Types Of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy can be separated into four major types, with Spastic being the most common. Regarding cerebral palsy, two terms must be understood on how CP affects muscle tone. They are as follows:

Hypotonia: This means low muscle tone, which leads to a loss of firmness and strength.


Hypertonia: This means high muscle tone, which leads to rigid and erratic movements.

Below are the four types of cerebral palsy diagnosis that your child can face:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

This is the most common cerebral palsy diagnosis. Approximately 80% of cerebral palsy cases will be spastic. This includes hypertonia due to the muscle movements being rigid and jerky. Parents must also understand that being that motor functions are injured; voluntary movement is impaired. When this occurs, the brain is unable to send signals regarding the flexibility of the muscles, hence hypertonia.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Also known as dyskinetic cerebral palsy, this diagnosis that targets the motor functions of the brain. Primarily, the area(s) of the brain that are susceptible to damage will be the basal ganglia and/or cerebellum. Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy can also be the root cause of cerebral palsy.

Babies who suffer from this diagnosis will also experience both hypotonia and hypertonia. Due to this lethal combination, low muscle tone and rigid/erratic movements will occur. And due to the injury of the basal ganglia and or cerebellum, this type of cerebral palsy affects certain functions in children such as eye movement, motor functions, and balance and coordination. When present, athetoid cerebral palsy can cause the following to occur:

Trouble Feeding/Swallowing
Floppiness with Limb
Rigid Body/Trunk Area
Balance & Posture Issues

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

A child who suffers from mixed cerebral palsy in general does not have a brain injury that targets solely one area. Because of this, a baby suffering from mixed cerebral palsy could display spastic cerebral palsy (rigid legs) and athetoid cerebral palsy (poor facial control). This condition is seen in about 10% of cerebral palsy diagnosis.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

This is one of the rarest forms of cerebral and is usually accompanied by poor muscle tone, or hypotonia, which in turn causes impairment to fine motor skills and other movements for the child. Ataxic cerebral palsy can affect the child’s entire body, which then can result in abnormal body movements. The child’s arms, hand, body/trunk and feet will be affected due to the impairment of the cerebellum. Ataxic cerebral palsy is suspected if the child has the following:
Balance Problems
Coordination Problems: A child’s inability to keep their feet close together while walking
Issues With Movements Which Require Precision: Simple tasks such as grabbing an object may cause difficulty for the child.
Hand Movement: Tasks such as buttoning a shirt or using a fork or pencil may be challenging due to the hand trembling/shaking.

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