There are four main types of cerebral palsy, and while each one is different, all are responsible for varying degrees of permanent physical disability that can severely impair daily functioning and regular movement. Cerebral palsy almost always occurs due to brain injury or deprivation of oxygen at birth.
+ Spastic Cerebral Palsy
The most common type of cerebral palsy, spastic cerebral palsy is the type that affects 80% of children born with cerebral palsy. It causes stiff and uncontrollable movements that make it difficult for affected people to walk and use their arms. The most serious form of spastic cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, limits the function of all four limbs as well as speech. Tight muscle tone, in which the muscles are not flexible, is the cause for the limitation of movement which characterizes spastic cerebral palsy.
+ Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
This type of cerebral palsy affects 10% of patients, and it is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that are responsible for smooth movement as well as balance - the cerebellum and basal ganglia. Those who are affected by this form of the disease are plagued by involuntary movements that often prevent proper speech and eating as well as reaching and grasping. Low muscle tone makes it difficult for those who suffer from athetoid cerebral palsy to sit up properly as well as to stand straight.
+ Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
A relatively rare form of cerebral palsy, ataxic cerebral palsy limits coordination and walking and produces tremors, or shaking. It is also marked by low muscle tone.
+ Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Mixed cerebral palsy usually exhibits symptoms of both athetoid and spastic cerebral palsy and is caused by injury to more than one part of the brain. Sometimes athetoid symptoms of involuntary movement do not appear until the child is nine months to three years of age, making diagnosis difficult in babies.
With proper rehabilitation and adaptive devices, even very seriously affected cerebral palsy patients can lead productive and happy lives. However, some degree of disability will always manifest itself throughout the lifetime of a baby who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to brain injury at birth.