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Types of Cerebral Palsy

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in every 345 children is affected by cerebral palsy (CP). This disease is usually not one that children are born with naturally. Most often, cerebral palsy happens as the result of brain damage.

This brain injury usually happens either in utero or during childbirth, often as the result of medical negligence. While cerebral palsy primarily affects voluntary movement, there are many symptoms of the disease that will harm child health both now and in the future.

If your child has received a cerebral palsy diagnosis, your family is facing financial and physical difficulty. If your loved one has any of the types of cerebral palsy that we describe below, the cerebral palsy attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you seek financial compensation from the doctor that was responsible for your child's injury.

Risk Factors for Cerebral Palsy

Here are some things that may increase the child's chances of suffering a brain injury that could cause cerebral palsy:

  • A difficult delivery where the doctor should have performed a c-section to minimize the chance of brain injury
  • Premature birth
  • A maternal infection (or an infection in utero)
  • Low birth weight
  • Exposure to toxic substances during pregnancy

According to the National Institute of Health, experts are conducting childhood disability research to learn the roles of mishaps early in brain developmental disabilities. Human development can be harmed when someone does not properly do their job.

Cerebral palsy is almost always an acquired brain injury. In most cases, someone is responsible for the injury, and they can be made to pay in a lawsuit. Nonetheless, you would need to prove that someone was negligent, and that their negligence caused your child's injury.

Diagnosing Cerebral Palsy

If you suspect that your child has cerebral palsy because they are exhibiting one of the symptoms described below, or they have missed developmental milestones, you should immediately seek professional medical advice. The doctor may use one of a number of medical evaluations to diagnose your child. This could include:

  • Developmental screening
  • Blood tests
  • MRIs

Health professionals will likely perform several different developmental and medical evaluations before they reach the conclusion that your child has cerebral palsy. The best result from a developmental screening test is that your child does not have cerebral palsy. However, learning the facts easily can help you get immediate help and establish a care plan for your child.

Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Here are some of the common symptoms that may alert parents that something is wrong with their child, and they should be tested:

  • Stiff muscles
  • Exaggerated reflexes
  • Difficulty grasping objects
  • Excessive drooling
  • Missing key milestones, such as sitting up and keeping their head up on their own
  • Inability to lift their head
  • Inability to properly use all four limbs

Parents should not overlook these cerebral palsy symptoms, and they should get a medical opinion when they think they notice abnormal development.

Your child's health is a paramount concern of yours. In addition, the time clock for filing a lawsuit may begin to run from the first time when you may have noticed your child's symptoms because at that point, you should have known that your child was injured.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy. Roughly 70-80% of cerebral palsy cases are spastic cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy primarily results from damage to the motor cortex.

Spastic cerebral palsy patients will have increased muscle tone. This will cause them muscle stiffness. Stiff muscles can have a number of impacts on the child.

One of the most common manifestations of spastic cerebral palsy is difficulty walking. Just around half the children who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy will be able to walk independently.

Spastic Diplegia

This is a more mild form of one of the cerebral palsy types, affecting primarily the legs. Most individuals with spastic diplegia will have full intellectual abilities, and they will be able to walk on their own power. They may even only have difficulty with only one limb. However, they will still have issues with function in their legs and may need the help of an assistive device to walk.

Spastic quadriplegia is the most serious types of spastic cerebral palsy. It affects both the upper body and the lower body. The child will feel effects in their legs, arms and torso.

Finally, there is spastic hemiplegia. This is a moderate form of the disease that could have impacts on one side of the body. This is a form of unilateral cerebral palsy that could cause paralysis on that side. For example, they may lose the use of one arm because of the condition.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic cerebral palsy results from an injury to the brain's cerebellum. This form of CP affects body movements. The primary symptoms of ataxic cerebral palsy are problems with balance and coordination. Children could particularly struggle with activities that require fine motor skills, such as writing. Some children may walk with their feet far apart, much more than other children. Other children with this condition may have reduced depth perception.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

In dyskinetic cerebral palsy, the child's basal ganglia are damaged. The basal ganglia are the primary part of the brain that are responsible for muscle tone.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is the second most common form of the disease. Roughly 20% of cerebral palsy cases are dyskinetic. Another name for this type of cerebral palsy is athetoid cerebral palsy.

With dyskinetic cerebral palsy, your child may alternate back and forth between tight and loose muscle tone. In other words, they will sometimes have hypotonia and will sometimes have hypertonia. This will often result in involuntary movements, as the child's muscle tone transitions between the two states.

Because of the varying muscle tone, the child will have trouble controlling their arms and leg muscles. They may have random and uncontrolled movement disorders. With dyskinetic CP, your child may have jerky movements. They could also have writhing movements when they are struggling to control themselves. They lose much of their ability to control their muscle movement. This involuntary movement is constant.

Dystonic Cerebral Palsy

This is a form of dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Children with this condition may have difficulty sitting still of lying down. The uncontrollable movement may make them uncomfortable and unable to remain in one place for an extended period of time. The child may have particular difficulty sleeping due to fidgeting and the discomfort.

Children will first have symptoms of dystonic cerebral palsy in their hands and arms before it spreads to the rest of their body.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy may be present in a number of forms. Roughly 15% of cerebral palsy cases are mixed, meaning that the child has to deal with even more symptoms. Mixed cerebral palsy can be the most severe form of the disease, given the number of issues that the child may face.

The most common form of mixed cerebral palsy is spastic and dyskinetic cerebral palsy. The next most common combination is spastic and ataxic cerebral palsy.

Other Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

Here are some other symptoms that children with cerebral palsy may experience:

  • Speech impairments
  • Difficulty with depth perception
  • Motor dysfunction (decreased motor function can be evidenced by difficulties in grasping things and writing)

Since cerebral palsy involves brain damage, it often goes along with other disorders. The child could also have epilepsy or attention deficit disorder. They may also have other mood disorders or learning disabilities.

Treatment Program for Cerebral Palsy Cases

While cerebral palsy is a permanent injury, the developing brain can benefit from intensive therapy and treatment. Your child will have a team of professionals responsible for a treatment plan. Your child's development can benefit, although these treatments can be very expensive.

Here are some of the treatments that may be necessary for your child's growth and to foster brain development:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Special education

Cerebral palsy can involve experimental treatments to improve fine motor skills and muscle control. These therapies and treatments can be expensive. One study indicates that children who suffer from cerebral palsy will have medical bills that are 26 times those of a child without this injury. In addition, your child will suffer both physically and emotionally, and they will not be able to live a fully normal life with a body affected by this disease.

Contact a Cerebral Palsy Lawyer Today

If your child has been diagnosed with one of the cerebral palsy types after suffering a birth injury, your family may be entitled to substantial financial compensation if it was the result of a medical professional's negligence. Neurological disorders can be very expensive to treat, and your family will bear a significant toll from your child's brain injury. The cerebral palsy attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers will fight for your family to receive the maximum possible compensation after a medical professional committed malpractice. Call us today at (800) 424-5757 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.


Here are some questions that we are commonly asked about cerebral palsy cases and the disease itself.

Does Cerebral Palsy Always Result From a Birth Injury?

Most cases of cerebral palsy result from a birth injury, and they are diagnosed before the child reaches the age of two. However, there are other forms of brain trauma that can cause cerebral palsy, although acquired cerebral palsy is relatively rare. Nonetheless, you will still have to prove that the doctor was negligent, and that their negligence caused your child's birth injury.

Will My Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Settle Out of Court?

Most birth injury cases will eventually reach a settlement agreement. The insurance company and the hospital that employs the doctor are afraid of facing a jury when a negligent doctor has severely injured a child. Nonetheless, there are cases in which the defendant will adamantly deny liability. In these cases, you need an attorney with courtroom experience who knows how to explain complex scientific concepts to a jury and work with expert witnesses.

How Much Will a Cerebral Palsy Attorney Cost Me?

When your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, finances are an obvious concern. A birth injury attorney will not cost you any money upfront. At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, we also do not send you bills as your case works its way through the legal process. We are paid on a contingency basis, meaning that we receive a part of the proceeds of your case only if you receive a settlement or jury award.

How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit in My Birth Injury Case?

Each state will have its own statute of limitations that begins to run at the time that you knew or should have known your child was injured. In Illinois birth injury cases, you have two years to file your lawsuit.

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