Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are three common types of cerebral palsy, depending on what part of the brain is affected:
In some infants, symptoms are evident soon after birth. In others, diagnosis comes in later infancy or toddlerhood. Cerebral palsy is a permanent condition, meaning the injury to the brain doesn’t change, however, the effects of cerebral palsy often progress as people get older.
Spastic cerebral palsy is often associated with injury to or developmental differences in the part of the brain called the cerebral cortex. People who have spastic cerebral palsy experience unusually tight and stiff muscles, which can affect movement and growth. Spastic cerebral palsy accounts for about 80 percent of all cases of cerebral palsy.
Spastic cerebral palsy affects different areas of the body:
- Diplegia affects the legs more than the arms. This type of cerebral palsy is most common in premature babies.
- Hemiplegia affects one side of the body. This type of cerebral palsy is most common in babies who’ve experienced strokes or traumatic brain injuries.
- Quadriplegia affects the entire body—the legs and the arms. This type of cerebral palsy is most common in babies who experience a lack of oxygen.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is often associated with damage to the parts of the brain called the basal ganglia and the cerebellum. People who have dyskinetic cerebral palsy experience involuntary movements, such as tremors, or have difficulty balancing and making coordinated movements. They might also experience other types of complex movement disorders.
Mixed cerebral palsy describes people who experience features of spastic and dyskinetic cerebral palsy. This type of cerebral palsy is associated with damage to multiple areas of the brain.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Developing fetuses and infants up to age 1 can develop cerebral palsy if they experience brain injury or disruptions in brain development caused by:
- Bleeding in the brain before, during or after birth.
- Infections of the brain, including meningitis or encephalitis.
- Shock—a state in which organs and tissues don’t receive adequate blood flow.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Seizures at birth or in the first month following birth.
- Certain genetic conditions.
In some cases, health care providers are unable to determine the precise cause of a child’s cerebral palsy.
Older children can develop symptoms similar to those of cerebral palsy if they sustain traumatic brain injuries, experience a lack of oxygen, or contract an infection such as meningitis. Children whose injuries occur when they are older receive a diagnosis of brain injury rather than cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy occurs in 1.5 to more than 4 of every 1,000 infants born alive. Many factors—such as premature birth and serious illnesses—increase an infant’s risk of having cerebral palsy. In some cases, infants who are born at typical weights and experience no known brain injuries can still have cerebral palsy.
Living well with some conditions, such as cerebral palsy, requires a lifetime of expert medical care. As one of the world’s top cerebral palsy centers, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare provides a full range of services for children, teens and adults who have cerebral palsy. We guide patients and their families through the services they need from birth through adulthood. Gillette provides the following specialties and services that are most often associated with highly complex condition and injuries, such as cerebral palsy… Learn More >>
At Gillette, a patient who has a complex medical condition, such as cerebral palsy, often sees specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, rehabilitation medicine, sleep medicine, rehabilitation therapies and assistive technology. Working in teams, our specialists offer a wide range of collaborative evaluations and expert testing to support care and treatment. Evaluations and tests might include… Learn More >>
At Gillette, a patient who has a complex medical condition, such as cerebral palsy, often sees specialists in neurology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, rehabilitation medicine, sleep medicine, rehabilitation therapies and assistive technology. Working in teams, our specialists offer a wide range of collaborative evaluations and expert testing to support care and treatment. Treatments and procedures might include… Learn More >>
We offer assistive technology services for children, teens and adults who have disabilities and complex conditions that began during childhood. Collaborating with Gillette therapists and other specialists, our certified orthotists, prosthetists and seating practitioners support comprehensive care. We also work closely with patients, families and community professionals to design custom solutions for each patient’s needs. Some of the orthoses we supply most often are… Learn More >>
Gillette attracts the nation’s top surgeons and physicians in numerous specialties. Our medical staff is internationally recognized for excellence in surgical, medical and rehabilitative care. Drawn to Gillette by our deep expertise and extensive support services, our comprehensive teams offer a degree of specialization not found at other children’s hospitals… Learn More >>
Children who have complex conditions and disabilities often have needs that continue into adulthood. That’s why our Phalen Adult Clinic offers services for our patients (age 16 and older) who have conditions that began during childhood and require lifelong specialty care. We are experts at treating the age-related effects of cerebral palsy, epilepsy, spina bifida and neuromuscular conditions. Our facilities and services are designed specifically for our adult patients—and their families and caregivers. We offer an outpatient clinic (for ages 16 and older), an inpatient unit (for ages 18 – 40), and extensive services. Patients have access to specialty medical and surgical care, rehabilitation therapies, orthotics and prosthetics services, seating and adaptive equipment, and more… Learn More >>