Are there different types of cerebral palsy in which my child could be suffering?

Your baby boy just turned six months old and although he is absolutely perfect in your eyes, you’ve noticed some alarming signs that there may be something wrong with him. Ever since he was born he has had slight muscle tremors that your doctor brushed off as nervous twitches. However, over the past several weeks, the tremors have gotten exceedingly worse, followed by moments of what appears to be temporary paralysis. You called your doctor, but he assured you that you were probably just overreacting. Overreaction or not, his comments weren’t going to keep you from finding out what was wrong with your precious baby.

You decided to get a second opinion and took your baby to a friend’s pediatrician. What you discovered was horrifying: after several hours and numerous tests, the doctor diagnosed your son with cerebral palsy (CP).

The world stopped.

Cerebral palsy? How could this have happened? As you were trying to make sense of the situation, the pediatrician informed you that she would have to perform a few more tests to narrow the diagnosis down to which specific form of palsy he was currently suffering from.

Which form? There’s more than one? So now not only must you worry about the diagnosis itself, but whether he has the worst type or a mild form—all while hoping for the best.

Cerebral Palsy Differences

The National Institute of Health defines cerebral palsy as a group of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood, and permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination. Although the abnormalities affect the muscles, the disorders are actually caused by irregularities in the brain that formed during pregnancy or delivery. In many cases, cerebral palsy results from hypoxia (lack of adequate oxygen flow to the brain) during delivery distress. 

According to data taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 10,000 babies a year are born with a brain injury that leads to cerebral palsy. This means that 1 out of every 320 children are currently suffering from one of the following four forms of this disorder. The different types include:


Spastic cerebral palsy causes excessive muscle freezing and rigidity (called hypertonicity), and is the most common form of cerebral palsy. It affects approximately 65 percent of cerebral palsy victims. Within the spastic form, there are three subcategories depending on where the rigidity is located:

  • Spastic quadriplegia – When both arms and both legs have some degree of impairment causing tremors or jerking, limiting the ability to walk.
  • Spastic diplegia – Impairment in the legs, but minimal or no impairment of the arms, causing an increased risk for hip problems and leg soreness. Intelligence and communication skills remain unaffected.
  • Spastic hemiplegia – When one side of the body—the opposite side of where the brain was injured—is affected, causing abnormal movement and paralysis.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic cerebral palsy causes small (called hypotonia) tremors which affect and target specific motor skills such as writing, balance (especially when walking), hearing, and vision. On average, about 10 percent of cerebral palsy victims suffer from ataxic cerebral palsy.

Athetoid/Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

This type of cerebral palsy has mixed muscle tension that can vary from low (hypotonic) to high (hypertonic). This causes writhing movements or seizures of the hands, torso, and body. These tremors drastically limit motor function, communication, and specific motor skills. It affects approximately 20 percent of patients.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Mixed cerebral palsy occurs when multiple areas of the brain are injured, resulting in a combination of the three major types. These injuries can occur either during pregnancy or delivery. Multiple injuries and multiple CP types are rare—less than five percent—but are extremely devastating since they can affect the entire body, as well as brain functions.

Knowledge, Support, and Caring

Your baby deserves to start his life with the best possible chances. However, if delivery complications, or poor pre-natal care causes him to suffer a brain injury, he could wind up living his entire life with the consequences of someone else’s mistake. Don’t let that happen. If your child suffers from one of the above forms of cerebral palsy, he may be entitled to malpractice compensation. Contact us today for a free consultation and review of your case. Our experience and knowledge with birth injury claims can help him get the treatment and justice he deserves to improve his chances in life. Call today to see how we can help.

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