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What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that affect body movement and muscle coordination. It is one of the most common motor disabilities to appear in childhood.

Cerebral palsy is a result of brain damage or abnormal brain development that affects an individual’s ability to control their muscles. It is most likely to develop within the first month following a child’s birth, or even during the first years of their life when their brain is still developing.

Doctors and scientists used to believe that cerebral palsy was predominantly a result of oxygen deprivation during birth. However, recent research suggests that this actually accounts for a small number of cases. Congenital cerebral palsy, which is caused by abnormal brain development or damage occurring before or during birth, accounts for the majority (85%-90%) of all cases.

People with severe cerebral palsy may need to use special equipment to walk. Individuals with mild cerebral palsy, on the other hand, may show few symptoms. Although this disorder does not worsen with time, its presentation can change.

Mother and daughter

Types of Cerebral Palsy

Medical professionals classify cerebral palsy based on the type of movement disorder an individual exhibits. The main types of CP include:

Spastic Cerebral Palsy

This type affects approximately 80% of patients with cerebral palsy. People with spastic cerebral palsy have increased muscle tone or stiff muscles that make their movements appear awkward. There are several subcategories that doctors diagnose based on which muscles are affected:
  • Spastic diplegia/diparesis: Muscle stiffness is mainly in the legs. Individuals may find it difficult to walk since their tight leg and hip muscles make their legs pull together, turn inward, or cross at the knees like scissors.
  • Spastic hemiplegia/hemiparesis: This type of spastic cerebral palsy, on the other hand, affects one side of an individual’s body more than the other.
  • Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis: This is the most severe type of spastic cerebral palsy. It affects the trunk, face, and all four limbs. Individuals with this condition may not be able to walk.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy