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What are the four types of cerebral palsy?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2018 | Birth Injuries |

When a child in Washington has cerebral palsy, it may be present at birth but go undetected for months or even a year or more. One of the key indicators that your baby may have cerebral palsy is a failure to meet developmental milestones like crawling, walking or rolling over.

The condition affects muscle tone and movement due to brain abnormalities. According to WebMD, there are four different types of cerebral palsy, categorized by the type of movement involved, and some of these also involve several subtypes. 


A child with ataxic cerebral palsy may demonstrate shaky hands, making it difficult to perform certain tasks, or unsteadiness in walking because this type of CP causes coordination and balance problems. Ataxic cerebral palsy is rare. 


Dyskinetic cerebral palsy makes it nearly impossible to control the movements of the affected muscles because muscle tone is either too loose or too tight. The uncontrolled muscle movement may be either quick or slow, and characterized as curvy, writhing, jerky or twisting.


Spastic cerebral palsy involves involuntary contraction of the affected muscles. “Spasm” is the medical term for this involuntary contraction, which can cause muscles to become tight or stiff. There are three subtypes of spastic CP:

  • Spastic quadriplegia is the most serious type of spastic CP and affects the face, torso and all four limbs. In addition to problems with movement, people with spastic quadriplegia may have trouble speaking and experience seizures.
  • Spastic diplegia makes it difficult to walk because of stiffness and “scissoring” of the legs. When legs scissor, they turn in at the knees. Spastic diplegia specifically affects the muscles of the legs and hips.
  • Spastic hemiplegia affects only one side of the body, either left or right. It can cause seizures and speech problems, scoliosis of the spine and difficulty walking because the limbs on the affected side may be thinner and shorter than those on the opposite side.

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type.


Some people exhibit symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy. It is most common to see dyskinetic and spastic CP symptoms in combination.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.