Brain Injury Care Provider

Understanding the different types of cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a complex neurological condition affecting movement, muscle tone, and posture.

Though it is a lifelong condition, its severity and associated symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.

One key aspect of understanding cerebral palsy is recognising the different types, each of which affects individuals in unique ways.

Spastic cerebral palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type, affecting approximately 70 to 80 per cent of individuals diagnosed with the condition.

It is characterised by stiff muscles and awkward movements, resulting from damage to the brain’s motor cortex.

Spastic cerebral palsy can be further classified based on which part of the body is affected:

  • Spastic Hemiplegia: One side of the body is affected, often with the arm more severely impacted than the leg.
  • Spastic Diplegia: Primarily affects the legs, often leading to walking difficulties.
  • Spastic Quadriplegia: All four limbs are affected, usually alongside the torso and face, making it one of the most severe forms.

Physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and sometimes surgical interventions like Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) are common treatment options.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy

This type affects around 10 to 20 per cent of individuals and is characterised by involuntary, uncontrolled movements.

These movements can be slow and writhing (athetoid) or rapid and jerky (dystonic).

Occupational therapy, speech therapy, and medications like anticholinergics can be helpful for managing symptoms.

Ataxic cerebral palsy

Making up a smaller proportion of cases, ataxic cerebral palsy affects balance and coordination.

Individuals may experience tremors, difficulty with precise movements, and an unsteady gait.

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy focusing on coordination and balance exercises are the primary treatment methods.

Mixed cerebral palsy

In some cases, individuals may exhibit symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy, commonly a combination of spastic and dyskinetic types. This is known as mixed cerebral palsy.

A tailored approach combining therapies suitable for each subtype is generally recommended.

Hypotonic cerebral palsy

Though less common, hypotonic cerebral palsy presents with overly relaxed muscles, floppy limbs, and issues with posture and movement.

Physiotherapy and supportive devices like braces are usually employed for treatment.

Understanding leads to better management

It is important to remember that each case of cerebral palsy is unique, meaning the types and therapies mentioned above may not represent every individual’s experience.

Ongoing research continues to offer hope for better understanding and treatment of this complex condition.

Here at Almond Care, we are experienced in dealing with many different forms of cerebral palsy, and so understand how it can affect individuals differently. Therefore, we can create bespoke care plans to suit somebody’s unique needs.

If you or a loved one is living with cerebral palsy and would like some support, please contact us today.


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For a free, no-obligation discussion about our UK complex care in the home for brain injury, spinal cord injury, long-term ventilation, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and other neurological conditions, please click here or call 024 7610 2333.