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Are There Different Types of Cerebral Palsy?

Disabled Boy CP Wheelchair ParkCerebral palsy is a complex condition capable of affecting various aspects of a child’s life, from physical health to intellectual, social, and behavioral development. This condition is not curable, and most children born with cerebral palsy struggle with various symptoms throughout their lives.

However, it is possible to improve the quality of life of children with cerebral palsy and help minimize the effects of their symptoms with consistent treatment. Additionally, the type of cerebral palsy a child has informs his or her treatment options.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is not a specific condition but rather the name of a group of conditions resulting from brain damage in the earliest stages of life. Children may suffer brain damage in the womb from physical traumas like car accidents or domestic violence. They could also suffer brain damage from oxygen deprivation or infection.

Ultimately, the effects of cerebral palsy differ from case to case and parents face many challenges in terms of understanding and treating their children’s cerebral palsy.

Most parents can start to see the signs of cerebral palsy as early as the first few months of a newborn’s life. For others, noticeable symptoms may not appear for several months to a year after a child is born.

Some children experience minimal symptoms of cerebral palsy and may have minor difficulty using one arm or one leg while others may be completely incapable of voluntary movement and require constant supervision and daily care. Some types of cerebral palsy involve more significant symptoms than others.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

The most common form of cerebral palsy is spastic cerebral palsy. This form of the condition entails irregular muscle development, often causing excessive muscle growth in some areas of the body and improper muscle group formation. Spastic cerebral palsy also causes severe tightness and stiffness, preventing muscle groups from coordinating properly which in turn encourages improper muscle growth.

About 70% of cerebral palsy cases involve spastic cerebral palsy. Children with this form of cerebral palsy often require surgical procedures to fix structural complications within muscle groups and correct posture. Some children with spastic cerebral palsy learn to manage musculoskeletal difficulties with consistent physical therapy and occupational therapy.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

As many as 20% of children with cerebral palsy exhibit symptoms of athetoid cerebral palsy, also called dystonic or dyskinetic cerebral palsy. This form of the condition causes involuntary movements.

Children with athetoid cerebral palsy may lack control over certain muscle groups, experience twitches or spasms, or completely lack muscular motor control. Some children have difficulty with oral muscle control, sometimes requiring specialized feeding methods or even feeding tubes. Athetoid cerebral palsy typically affects the upper half of the body more than the legs.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

About 5% to 10% of children with cerebral palsy show signs of ataxic cerebral palsy, which interferes with balance and coordination. Many people with ataxic cerebral palsy experience tremors when trying to perform certain muscle movements.

They often have difficulty controlling certain muscle groups and performing fine motor tasks. Some have trouble with gross motor functions. Language-based symptoms are also common among children with ataxic cerebral palsy. They may have speech impediments, stammer, or have difficulty communicating in general.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

About 10% of all children with cerebral palsy display symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy with one type usually displaying the most dominant symptoms. For example, a child with spastic cerebral palsy may also display signs of athetoid cerebral palsy and have difficulty eating.

A child with ataxic cerebral palsy may have profound difficulties with eating, speaking, and oral muscle movements due to the presence of athetoid cerebral palsy symptoms.

Secondary Complications From Cerebral Palsy

Ultimately, any cerebral palsy diagnosis can entail a mixed bag of symptoms, both short- and long-term. Any child born with cerebral palsy potentially faces a lifetime of disability and reliance on ongoing medical care and supervision.

Another important aspect of cerebral palsy everyone should remember is that there is no one solidly defined set of symptoms for this condition. No two cases of cerebral palsy are the same and children born with cerebral palsy will have unique experiences from the condition.

Many parents find the struggles caused by secondary symptoms pose more difficulty than the physical symptoms of cerebral palsy. Children with all types of cerebral palsy often develop secondary conditions including:

  • Vision problems. About 10% of all children with cerebral palsy struggle with poor vision.
  • Hearing problems, which appear in about one of every 25 cerebral palsy cases.
  • Seizure disorders.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • Chronic pain. Half of all people with cerebral palsy struggle with some type of chronic pain.
  • Intellectual impairment, affecting about 50% of people with cerebral palsy.
  • Eating problems. One in five children with cerebral palsy will require a feeding tube.

These are just some of the symptoms a child with cerebral palsy can experience, and when cerebral palsy results from medical negligence the parents of a child who develops cerebral palsy should know their options for legal recourse.

The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Law, LLC can help you determine your legal options if a negligent medical professional caused your child to develop cerebral palsy. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out what type of compensation your family could receive from a successful lawsuit.


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