Types of Cerebral Palsy

While there are several variations of Cerebral Palsy, the three main types are Spastic, Athetoid and Ataxic:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common type and affects about 70-80% of the cases.  Spastic CP causes increase in muscle tone – muscles can’t relax or are stiff and permanently contracted.  The area of the brain that controls movement has been affected.  The muscles are stiff because the message to the muscles is incorrectly passed through the damaged part of the brain.  When an individual without CP performs a movement some muscles tighten while others relax.  An individual with CP will have both groups of muscles tightening, making the movement difficult.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy affects the ability to control the muscles of the body.  Arms or legs that are affected by Athetoid CP may flutter and move suddenly.  Muscles change from floppy to tense.  The movements affect the hands, feet, arms or legs.   Balance and coordination are problematic for a person with this type of CP.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is the least-diagnosed and rarest form.  It only affects fine motor skills.  There may be balance issues related to the inner ear, and a corresponding speech impediment.  Generally, a person with Ataxic CP may have difficulty tying their shoelace, buttoning a shirt, or holding/using a pen/pencil.  Increased focus on the effort may cause tremors as the muscles become taxed by the effort.

Author: bforberg

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