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What Are the Different Types of Cerebral Palsy?

A birth injury lawyer explains what parents need to know

A mother cups her baby's head with her hands.

Many children are born with cerebral palsy, which is often simply referred to as CP. Roughly 3 out of 1,000 newborn children are diagnosed with CP, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And among adults, an estimated one million people have cerebral palsy.

So what exactly is cerebral palsy? How do parents know if their child has CP? And what are common types of cerebral palsy? Below, you can learn more about this medical condition often associated with birth injuries due to medical negligence.

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a common muscle disorder. In fact, CP is the most common motor disability among children in the United States, according to the CDC. Children with CP often have a hard time moving certain body parts. Other times, children with CP have poor balance or posture.

In addition, some children with cerebral palsy might also have other medical conditions. These often include:

  • Cognitive or intellectual disability
  • Poor vision
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Poor hearing
  • Scoliosis (irregular curve) of the spine
  • Rigid muscles, including muscle contractures

Children with CP might also have other medical conditions. If you believe your child has cerebral palsy, tell your pediatrician right away. Doctors can perform certain tests to diagnose whether your child has cerebral palsy.

What are common types of cerebral palsy?

There are five common types:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy – Approximately 77 percent of children with cerebral palsy have this particular type, making it the most common form of CP. Children with spastic cerebral palsy often have rigid or jerky movements and stiff muscles.
  • Mixed cerebral palsy – An estimated 15.4 percent of children with cerebral palsy have what’s known as mixed cerebral palsy. As the name suggests, children with mixed CP have two or more types of cerebral palsy. A common type of mixed cerebral palsy often involves a combination of spastic and athetoid CP.
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy – Also known as dyskinetic cerebral palsy or non-spastic cerebral palsy, this type affects roughly 2.6 percent of children with CP. Children with athetoid cerebral palsy often have involuntary movements in their body, limbs, or face.
  • Hypotonic cerebral palsy – Also known as atonic cerebral palsy, this particular type of CP affects 2.6 percent of children with cerebral palsy. Newborns with hypotonic CP often have floppy muscles or low muscle tone.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy – An estimated 2.4 percent of children with CP have ataxic cerebral palsy. This form of CP often results in unstable movements and poor balance.

What causes cerebral palsy among newborns?

Brain damage to a child during pregnancy often results in cerebral palsy. Lack of oxygen often causes this damage. Where the damage to the brain occurs often results in different types of cerebral palsy. This applies to the most common types:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy – Involves damage to the brain’s motor cortex, which controls voluntary movements.
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy – Damage to the brain’s basal ganglia or cerebellum. The basal ganglia controls movements in the eye. The brain’s cerebellum regulates a child’s coordination and balance.
  • Hypotonic cerebral palsy – Often caused by damage to the brain’s cerebellum.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy – Often caused by damage to the brain’s cerebellum.

How can a birth injury attorney help?

Many types of cerebral palsy involve birth injuries due to medical negligence. When this happens, the at-fault party (whether it’s a doctor or another medical professional) rarely admits wrongdoing. In fact, they often do everything they can to defend their actions and deny your birth injury claim.

We know what’s at stake at The Lancione Law Firm near Cleveland. That’s because Ohio birth injury lawyer John A. Lancione has years of experience handling such complex legal cases. Since our law firm was founded, we have obtained more than $350 million in settlements and verdicts for medical negligence victims, including one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in Ohio.

Discover what we can do for you. Contact us and schedule a free consultation with Cleveland birth injury attorney John A. Lancione. He can explain your legal options and answer your questions. You can reach us online or call (440) 331-6100 or (877) 515-4369 to start your legal journey with The Lancione Law Firm. We handle birth injury cases nationwide.

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