General Characteristics of Cerebral Palsy

There are 4 different types of cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy, which causes stiffness and difficulty with movement. Individuals with spastic cerebral palsy have muscles that are often described as rigid and jerky. Spastic cerebral palsy accounts for almost 80% of all cerebral palsy cases. This type of spastic cerebral palsy limits movement in one or more tight muscle groups and results in stiff and jerky movements in children. Children with spastic cerebral palsy often have a difficult time moving from one position toanother. They may also have difficulty with fine motor abilities such as holding and letting go of objects.

Athetoid/dyskinetic cerebral palsy causes the individual to have involuntary and or uncontrolled muscle movement. Athetoid/dyskinetic cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain in the area of the cerebellum or basal ganglia. The cerebellum and basal ganglia are responsible for processing the signals that allow movements that are smooth and coordinated as well as preserving body posture. Damage to these areas of the brain may result in unintentional movements, especially in the person’s face, arms, and trunk. These unintentional movements often hinder a person’s feeding, speaking, grasping, reaching, and other skills that require coordinated movements. Ataxic cerebral palsy causes a disturbed sense or loss of balance and depth perception. The ataxic form of cerebral palsy is less common in 5-10 % of children and is distinguished by low muscle tone and poor coordination of movements. Ataxic cerebral palsy looks very unsteady and shaky in children with type of cerebral palsy. This is a rare form of cerebral palsy and it affects the balance and depth perception in individuals. Poor coordination and a wide based gait in a person’s walking movements with a lot of shakiness are commonly seen with ataxic cerebral palsy.

Mixed cerebral palsy is a combination of two or more of the previously mentioned types of cerebral palsy. About 10% of the cases of cerebral palsy in children is a mixed-type of cerebral palsy. Mixed cerebral palsy is characterized by children having both the involuntary movements of athetoid cerebral palsy and the tight muscle tone of spastic cerebral palsy. This is due to the fact that they have injuries to both the pyramidal and extra pyramidal areas of the brain. In most cases the spasticity is more noticeable at first, within voluntary movements that increases between the child’s ages of nine months to three years old.



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