What are the types of cerebral palsy?

There are several types of cerebral palsy, classified by the kind of movement affected, the body parts affected, and how severe the symptoms are. Some types involve intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) as well as movement problems.2

  • Spastic cerebral palsy. This type is the most common form of the disorder. People with spastic cerebral palsy have stiff muscles which cause jerky or repeated movements. There are different forms of spastic cerebral palsy, depending on the body parts affected. These forms are:
    • Spastic hemiplegia (pronounced hem-i-PLEE-jee-uh) or hemiparesis (pronounced hem-ee-puh-REE-sis). This type affects the arm, the hand, and sometimes the leg on only one side of the body. Children with this form may have delays in learning to talk, but intelligence is usually normal.
    • Spastic diplegia (pronounced dahy-PLEE-jee-uh) or diparesis (pronounced dahy-puh-REE-sis). People with this form mostly have muscle stiffness in the legs, while the arms and face are less severely affected. Intelligence and language skills are usually normal.
    • Spastic quadriplegia (pronounced kwod-ruh-PLEE-jee-uh)or quadriparesis (pronounced kwod-ruh-puh-REE-sis). This is the most severe form of cerebral palsy, involving severe stiffness of the arms and legs and a floppy, or weak, neck. People with spastic quadriplegia are usually unable to walk and often have trouble speaking. This form may involve moderate to severe IDD as well.
  • Dyskinetic (pronounced dis-ki-NET-ik) cerebral palsy. This type involves slow and uncontrollable jerky movements of the hands, feet, arms, or legs. The face muscles and tongue may be overactive and cause some children to drool or make faces. People with this type often have trouble sitting straight or walking. People with dyskinetic cerebral palsy do not usually have intellectual problems.
  • Ataxic (pronounced uh-TAK-sik) cerebral palsy. This form of the disorder affects balance and depth perception. People with ataxic cerebral palsy walk in an unsteady manner and have a hard time with quick or precise movements such as writing, buttoning a shirt, or reaching for a book.
  • Mixed types. This kind of cerebral palsy includes symptoms that are a mix of the other types.

  1. Accardo, P. (Ed.). (2008). Capute and Accardo’s neurodevelopmental disabilities in infancy and childhood (3rd ed.). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2013). Cerebral palsy: hope through research. Retrieved August 10, 2013, from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Cerebral-Palsy-Hope-Through-Research

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