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Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day
Cerebral Palsy is a group of disorders that affect a person’s movement, muscles, and posture. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the developing brain, and as a result, many people are diagnosed with cerebral palsy during their childhood.1
It is estimated that roughly 764,000 people in the United States have at least one symptom of cerebral palsy.2 Cerebral palsy is the most commonly diagnosed childhood motor disability in the United States, which can affect how children develop as they reach adulthood.
Here are some of the different types of cerebral palsy as well as some ways you can help those who have it.
Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy affects everyone differently – someone might need to use assistive devices to move about while another person might only experience slight difficulty when walking.
Because of the variation in severity, many of the signs and symptoms are associated with movement, speech, and eating.
Some of the most common signs of cerebral palsy are:1
- Exaggerated reflexes
- Stiffened muscles
- Difficulty walking
- Involuntary movements like tremors or jerks
- Preference in using one side of the body
- Variation in muscle tone
- Inability to perform fine motor skills
- Balance issues
- Struggle with muscle coordination
- Difficulty speaking
- Can’t chew, swallow, or eat properly
- Learning challenges
Types of Cerebral Palsy
There are 3 main types of cerebral palsy: spastic, dyskinetic, and ataxic. Each of these affect the body’s ability to move and perform everyday tasks.
It is estimated that 10% of cerebral palsy cases are considered mixed cerebral palsy, which is a mixture of the 3 different types.3
Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy, with the CDC estimating that it affects about 80% of those diagnosed. People with spastic cerebral palsy have stiff muscles that increases their muscle tone, which can result in some challenges when it comes to moving around.4
Spastic cerebral palsy can affect one or more areas of the body. Here are 3 common forms of spastic cerebral palsy.
This type of cerebral palsy primarily affects the legs, and those diagnosed with this kind will have difficulty walking.
Here are some ways those with spastic diplegia are affected:5
- Legs experience “scissoring,” which is when legs turn inward at the knees and pull together
- Bending at the knees, which affects posture
- The foot points downward and inward which tightens calf muscles
- Trouble standing or sitting upright
- Difficulty repositioning
- Can’t run or walk efficiently
Spastic hemiplegia is when movement on one side of the body is affected. Usually, when people are born with this type of cerebral palsy it’s because their brain was damaged in the womb or during birth. Sometimes spastic hemiplegia can be temporary (such as having difficulty with tasks such as writing or sewing) while other times it can be a lifelong condition.6
Spastic hemiplegia causes someone as they develop to only use their dominant side. This can cause disparity between the used and unused side, which can affect overall balance and coordination. Some common ways spastic hemiplegia affects people include:7
- Stiff movement
- Leaning on one side for balance
- Poor or weaker fine motor skills
- Abnormal walking patterns
Spastic quadriplegia is the most severe type of spastic cerebral palsy, meaning “loss of use of the whole body.” People with spastic quadriplegia are unable to use their legs, arms, and body.8
This type of cerebral palsy usually occurs due to brain damage that happens during pregnancy or birth. Sometimes this occurs when the fetus has a stroke due to a blood clot in the placenta.
Usually, spastic quadriplegia is discovered in ages three months to two years old. Many children diagnosed are unable to stand properly and have trouble stretching or moving.9
Some symptoms of spastic quadriplegia include:8
- Cognitive disabilities
- Rapid contracting and releasing of muscles
- Inability to stretch joints/move
- Difficulty speaking
- Muscle tremors and tightness
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy, also known as Atheoid CP, is a type of cerebral palsy where someone experiences difficulty with muscle movement. People with dyskinetic cerebral palsy will experience problems balancing, walking, and moving.10
Many people with dyskinetic cerebral palsy will experience movement that is out of their control. These movements usually become noticeable when they try to move. This can result in movements that are repetitive, slow, irregular, or unpredictable.11
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxia means “without order” or “coordination,” and it results in a person’s movements being clumsy or jerky. People with Ataxia cerebral palsy have trouble coordinating when walking or picking up objects because their muscles in their arms are interrupted due to damage of the cerebellum.12
Another way ataxic cerebral palsy affects someone is it can manifest in a certain area, such as the fingers, hands, face, head, or throat. This can cause someone to have difficulty performing fine motor tasks. For example, if someone’s throat is affected by ataxic cerebral palsy, they may have difficulty swallowing.13
How You can Help those with Cerebral Palsy
There are many different ways that you can help those affected by cerebral palsy. Here are a few ways you can get started in reaching out to those in need today:
- Join Organizations that Help Others. There are organizations out there that are dedicated to spreading awareness about cerebral palsy and helping families with a loved one who has it. Here are two organizations that are dedicated to spreading awareness about the condition.
- Cure CP. Cure CP is an organization dedicated to funding cerebral palsy research. This nonprofit was founded by two families searching to help others who have children with cerebral palsy. Because there currently is no cure for cerebral palsy, donating to Cure CP can be a way to help fund research that can be lifesaving.
- March of Dimes. This is an organization dedicated to helping mothers with babies who have special needs. They are dedicated to connecting parents who live in the same parts of the country. You can read the stories of other parents and find a local support system if you have someone in the family with cerebral palsy.
- Spread Awareness. Spreading awareness about cerebral palsy is another way you that can help those who have it, since many people are unaware of how the condition affects others. You can spread awareness by doing your research, sharing articles online, and educating those around you.
- Volunteer. There are many different events in your local community that are dedicated to spreading awareness and raising money to help people with cerebral palsy live better lives. You can find a way to volunteer in your local community by searching for causes that help those with cerebral palsy online. If there are none in your community, you can start one of your own fundraisers and ask for volunteers to come help out.
Spread The Word on Cerebral Palsy Day
Here at Saber Healthcare, we encourage you to take steps to educate others about cerebral palsy and get involved in helping those who have it.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Cerebral Palsy.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). 1 September 2021. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cerebral-palsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20353999
- Poinsett, Pierette Mimi, ed. “Cerebral Palsy Facts and Statistics.” Cerebral Palsy Guidance. 21 March 2020. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://www.cerebralpalsyguidance.com/cerebral-palsy/research/facts-and-statistics/
- Bass, Pat. “Mixed Cerebral Palsy.” Cerebral Palsy Guidance. 14 April 2020. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://www.cerebralpalsyguidance.com/cerebral-palsy/types/mixed/
- “What is Cerebral Palsy?” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2 September 2021. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/facts.html
- “Spastic Cerebral Palsy.” Cerebral Palsy Alliance, cerebralpalsy.org. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://cerebralpalsy.org.au/our-research/about-cerebral-palsy/what-is-cerebral-palsy/types-of-cerebral-palsy/spastic-cerebral-palsy/
- “Spastic Hemiplegia.” Brainandspinalcord.org. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://www.brainandspinalcord.org/spastic-hemiplegia/
- Denslow, Elizabeth, ed. “Spastic Hemiplegia: When Cerebral Palsy Only Affects One Side of the Body.” FlintRehab. 15 July 2021. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://www.flintrehab.com/spastic-hemiplegia/
- Jansheski, Gina. “Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy.” Cerebral Palsy Guidance. 12 July 2020. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://www.cerebralpalsyguidance.com/cerebral-palsy/types/spastic-quadriplegia/
- “What is Spastic Cerebral Palsy?” Cerebral Palsy Group. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://cerebralpalsygroup.com/cerebral-palsy/spastic/
- Wade M. Shrader and Margaret Salzbrenner. “Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy.” The Nemours Foundation, Kids Health. September 2018. Link: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/dyskinetic-cp.html
- “Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy.” Cerebral Palsy Alliance, cerebralpalsy.org. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://cerebralpalsy.org.au/our-research/about-cerebral-palsy/what-is-cerebral-palsy/types-of-cerebral-palsy/dyskinetic-cerebral-palsy/
- “Ataxic Cerebral Palsy.” Cerebral Palsy Alliance, cerebralpalsy.org. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://cerebralpalsy.org.au/our-research/about-cerebral-palsy/what-is-cerebral-palsy/types-of-cerebral-palsy/ataxic-cerebral-palsy/
- “What is Ataxic Cerebral Palsy?” Cerebral Palsy Group. Accessed 5 October 2021. Link: https://cerebralpalsygroup.com/cerebral-palsy/ataxic/