Types of Cerebral Palsy

There are several different types of cerebral palsy most of which carry life altering ramifications. There are two primary types of cerebral palsy; spastic cerebral palsy and dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy is broken into generalized forms of cerebral palsy in terms of the number of limbs that are involved, or the types of limbs that are involved.

There is diplegic cerebral palsy which typically involves two limbs, there is quadriplegic that involves four limbs and there are also forms of cerebral palsy that involve three limbs that would be called tetraplegic. The difference between spastic cerebral palsy and dyskinetic cerebral palsy is that in the setting of spastic cerebral palsy, the limbs are very stiff.

There is hypertonia. In dyskinetic cerebral palsy, there are involuntary movements of the limbs that are not necessarily a function of hypertonia. There are many different causes to both spastic and dyskinetic palsy.

Some causes are unknown, some causes are genetic in nature, some causes are mitochondrial disorders, genetic defects, infection can cause cerebral palsy, kernicterus, or bilirubin encephalopathy, can cause cerebral palsy and one of the more common causes of cerebral palsy is from birth injuries or from a condition that is known as hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is just a fancy word for decreased oxygen in blood flow and the way that cerebral palsy, either dyskinetic or spastic is caused by decreased oxygen in blood flow is that if there is a prolonged period of decreased oxygen in blood flow, the brain begins to suffer damage. There can be damage to different parts of the brain and that is what causes the different types of spastic cerebral palsy.

Causes of each type

If there is an injury to the cerebral cortex of the brain that is likely going to result in a diplegic cerebral palsy that generally affects the lower limbs, the legs. People with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy are often wheelchair bound but have good cognitive functioning, meaning that that they can learn, many of them can read and write.

If there are areas of the brain beyond the cerebral cortex that are affected, such as the deep gray structures of the brain or the surrounding white matter of the brain, that can cause quadriplegic cerebral palsy involving four limbs and unfortunately, many people with spastic quadriplegia also have learning disabilities and cognitive delays.

If there is a profound and acute and severe lack of oxygen in the setting of a delivery that can result in injury to the very deep gray structures of the brain; the internal structures of the brain, including the basal ganglia and the thalamus.

Those areas of the brain when they are affected, will generally cause the dyskinetic type of cerebral palsy where there are involuntary movements. Like spastic quadriplegia, dyskinetic cerebral palsy often results in cognitive delays and cognitive injuries as well.

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