Types Of Cerebral Palsy

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Cerebral palsy is a broad term used to define a number of different neurological disorders. These disorders generally appear in infancy or early on in childhood development and generally affect muscle control, coordination, and body movement. While the damage is irrevocable, it typically does not worsen over the years.

Cerebral palsy can be caused by a variety of different factors, including viruses mothers may contract during gestation, such as German measles, or rubella, or if an infant develops jaundice, or experiences a birth injury. Injury can occur during delivery when the baby is not ideally positioned for birth such as in a breech presentation, or when the birth canal is too narrow for the baby. In such cases, forceps or a vacuum extraction may be necessary to facilitate the delivery and errors made during the extraction may cause birth injuries such as cerebral palsy. Infants may also experience brain damage if they are deprived of oxygen during birth, such as from strangulation by the umbilical cord, or if a caesarean section is not quickly enough in the event of fetal distress.

To describe the different types of movement disorders related to cerebral palsy, doctors and neurologists use different classification systems and labels. All children with cerebral palsy have damage to the area of the brain that controls muscle tone, movement, and motor control. As a result, they may have increased muscle tone, reduced muscle tone, or a combination of the two. Which parts of their bodies are affected by the abnormal muscle tone depends upon where the brain damage occurs. It is through the different types of muscle tone affected that the doctors classify each child's specific type of cerebral palsy.

There are three main types of cerebral palsy: spastic, athetoid or dyskinetic, and ataxic. Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy, accounting for nearly 70 to 80 percent of all cerebral palsy cases. Children with spastic cerebral palsy may make stiff and jerky movements. They often have a hard time moving from one position to another and may have a hard time holding and releasing objects. While some types of spastic cerebral palsy affect only one or two limbs, others can affect all four limbs of the body and may result in paralysis.

Athetoid, or dyskinetic, cerebral palsy affects approximately 10 to 20 percent of individuals with cerebral palsy. It typically causes people with the disorder to have uncontrolled, slow, or writhing movements. These movements may affect legs, hands, arms, and feet. Occasionally, individuals with athetoid cerebral palsy will also experience problems moving muscles in the face or tongue. Involuntary movements may increase if an individual experiences emotional stress; they will typically go away while a person is sleeping. Some people with athetoid cerebral palsy may also experience speech problems, drooling, or other issues as the result of difficulty controlling facial muscles.

Ataxic cerebral palsy is the least common of the three types of cerebral palsy. This form of cerebral palsy affects people's sense of balance and depth perception. Because their balance and depth perception are affected, people often have poor coordination, walk unsteadily, and have trouble with precise movements and tasks associated with them, such as writing. People with ataxic cerebral palsy have low muscle tone and poor coordination of movement causing them to look shaky and unsteady. They often walk unsteadily with a wide gait placing their feet far apart. These patients also have a difficult time mastering fine motor skills because of their uncontrollable shaking.

Mixed cerebral palsy is when a patient has a combination of the three main types of cerebral palsy, displaying characteristics and traits of two or more forms of cerebral palsy.

While doctors and hospitals typically do everything they can to prevent injuries during the birthing process, mistakes and errors can be made. If you believe that your child sustained an injury during birth that led to the development of cerebral palsy, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer who specializes in birth injury lawsuits. An experienced attorney will review medical records and try to determine if your child's condition is linked to an injury during birth that may have been preventable, as well as if you may be eligible for compensation to cover medical expenses associated with cerebral palsy. The lawyer will then be able to guide you through the steps necessary to build a strong case, improving your chances of a successful outcome.


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