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Types of Cerebral Palsy

What Are the Different Forms of Cerebral Palsy(CP)?

Cerebral palsy is the term used to define a group of conditions that affect muscle movement and coordination. There are four main types of cerebral palsy: spastic, ataxic, athetoid and mixed CP.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy affects nearly 80 percent of all infants, children and adults suffering from cerebral palsy (CP). Spastic CP is characterized by increased muscle tone in the body, which can cause stiff muscles and difficulty moving.

Common types of spastic cerebral palsy include:

  • Spastic diplegia/spastic diparesis: Muscle stiffness is primarily in the legs; sometimes arms are unaffected. The legs may pull together at the knees (scissoring).
  • Spastic hemiplegia/spastic hemiparesis: Muscle stiffness centers on one side of the body.
  • Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis: All four limbs can be affected as well as the face and trunk. The child may have additional developmental disabilities.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Five to 10 percent of individuals with CP have ataxic cerebral palsy. This form of cerebral palsy involves damage to the cerebellum, which controls balance and coordination. People with ataxic cerebral palsy tend to have poor balance and coordination and may have trouble making quick or controlled movements. This can result in tremors, such as a shaking arm when the person reaches for an object.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy/Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Athetoid cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the basal ganglia, which controls muscle movement. Unlike spastic cerebral palsy, the muscle tone of individuals with athetoid or dyskintetic cerebral palsy can change, causing uncontrollable movements. They often find it hard to relax and may appear restless, with irregular, repetitive movements.

The fluctuations in muscle tone can affect the entire body, from the arms and legs to the face and tongue. Nearly 25 percent of people with CP suffer from dyskinetic/athetoid CP.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Ten percent of individuals with CP have a combination of spastic, ataxic and athetoid cerebral palsy. The most common form of mixed cerebral palsy is spastic-athetoid cerebral palsy. Children with this form of mixed cerebral palsy suffer from both tight muscles and involuntary movements.

Your Child and Cerebral Palsy

As you can see, cerebral palsy affects every child differently. Some children have minor symptoms while others have significant physical developmental delays. Yet, many children may still lead normal, productive lives. A variety of physical and occupational therapies help children learn how to use their muscles.

If your child's CP was caused by a birth injury, you may be able to bring a lawsuit to recover compensation to cover the expense of therapy today and in the future. The birth injury team at Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., is dedicated to helping families secure the compensation and care they need to move forward. Our team is made up of both attorneys and medical professionals with years of experience handling birth injury lawsuits. Contact us to learn how we can help you.


Located in Philadelphia, Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., home of MyPhillyLawyer, serves clients in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and throughout the United States.

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