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Types of Cerebral Palsy - Topic Overview

Cerebral palsy (CP) is classified according to the type of body movement and posture problem.

Spastic (pyramidal) cerebral palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type.

A person with spastic CP develops tight muscles in some parts of the body that are unable to relax. Affected joints become stiff and hard to move. Usually, a person has problems controlling movements, poor coordination and balance, and difficulty talking and eating.

There are four types of spastic CP, grouped according to how many limbs are affected.

  • Hemiplegia or diplegia: One arm and one leg on the same side of the body (hemiplegia) or both legs (diplegia or paraplegia) are affected. These are the most common types of spastic cerebral palsy.
  • Monoplegia: Only one arm or leg is affected.
  • Quadriplegia: Both arms and both legs are affected. Usually the trunk and muscles that control the mouth, tongue, and windpipe are affected too. This makes eating and talking difficult. Babies with spastic quadriplegia may:
    • Have problems sucking and swallowing.
    • Have a weak or shrill cry.
    • Have a very relaxed and floppy body or a very stiff body. When held, they may arch their backs and extend their arms and legs.
    • Be irritable and jittery when awake. For example, they may startle easily.
    • Sleep a lot or show little interest in what is going on around them.
  • Triplegia: Either both arms and one leg or both legs and one arm are affected.
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