Types of Cerebral Palsy

Small Child with Cerebral Palsy

Small Child with Cerebral Palsy

Most people are under the inaccurate assumption that cerebral palsy is a disease, when in fact, it is actually a rather broad term used to describe a group of disorders. The term ‘cerebral’ refers to the cerebrum; the part of the brain most affected by the condition (though the cortex and cerebellum may also be affected). The term ‘palsy’ refers to disordered movement. Thus, cerebral palsy is best described as a condition that results in inhibited motor skills and disordered movement caused by damage to the cerebrum or cerebral cortex. Each type of cerebral palsy has its own unique symptoms and characteristics. However, all forms of cerebral palsy affect brain and nervous system function and cause a permanent state of uncoordinated movement and posturing, though to what degree depends on the severity.

Cerebral palsy is a lifelong condition and is non-progressive; meaning that it does not worsen with time though symptoms may change as a person ages. Cerebral palsy is also non-contagious and cannot be spread to other people, as it is not caused by a bacteria or a virus. The cause of cerebral palsy is believed by most experts to be the result of complications in intrauterine development, asphyxia before birth and trauma to the brain during delivery. Cerebral palsy is most common in premature infants born before their brains and other organs had the chance to fully develop, as well as in multiple births, such as twins or triplets. Lack of the oxygen or blood supply to the brain during birth and low birth weight lead to a higher risk of cerebral palsy. Infections or toxins in the body of a pregnant mother may also cause cerebral palsy. In rare cases, cerebral palsy can develop as the result of injuries inflicted on the brain up to the age of 3.

Many people with cerebral palsy live independent, productive lives, just as many people with cerebral palsy rely on family and healthcare professionals to care for them. Cerebral palsy may be mild, moderate or severe in regard to symptoms and prognosis. In order to best understand cerebral palsy and how people are affected, it is best to educate yourself in the various types of the disorder, which include:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Spastic Hemiplegia Cerebral Palsy
Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy
Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy

Boston Children’s Hospital
U.S. National Library of Medicine

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