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Understanding the Types of Cerebral Palsy | Physiotattva

Understanding the Types of Cerebral Palsy | Physiotattva

At Physiotattva, we offer specialized physiotherapy that aligns with the needs of the individual and aims to provide comprehensive care based on the severity of Cerebral Palsy. Our customized approach focuses on enhancing mobility, coordination, and functional abilities, catering to individual needs. Whether it's addressing muscle tone in spastic CP, refining coordination in ataxic CP, or managing diverse symptoms in mixed CP, our therapies aim for holistic improvement.

With Physiotattva, you can start your transformative journey to optimize motor skills and improve your overall quality of life. Trust our expertise to navigate the complexities of cerebral palsy types, tailoring physiotherapy interventions that foster progress and empowerment.

In this article, we discuss the various types of Cerebral Palsy,  how to manage them, and offer insights on comprehensive treatment options. With this, you can improve your quality of life and provide care and support with ease to individuals with Cerebral Palsy.

Different Types of Cerebral Palsy: Exploring the Spectrum

Cerebral palsy encompasses spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, and mixed types, each presenting unique movement challenges. Understanding this spectrum aids in tailoring therapies, addressing muscle stiffness, involuntary movements, coordination issues, and diverse symptoms for better management.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a group of permanent movement disorders originating from damage to the developing brain, commonly occurring before birth, during childbirth, or shortly after. Brain lesions or abnormalities disrupt motor function, impairing muscle control, coordination, and balance. These neurological impairments result in difficulties with movement, posture, and sometimes speech, affecting various aspects of daily life for individuals with CP. Therapy and interventions aim to mitigate these challenges and improve functionality.

What are all some Causes of Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy (CP) stems from various factors impacting brain development, leading to difficulties in movement and muscle control. These causes include prenatal brain damage due to infections, lack of oxygen, or genetic abnormalities. Problems during birth, such as trauma or asphyxia, and postnatal factors like brain infections or head injuries can also contribute. Understanding these multifaceted causes aids in prevention strategies and tailored interventions for individuals affected by CP.

Maternal infections

Maternal infections during pregnancy, like rubella, cytomegalovirus, or toxoplasmosis, can increase the risk of cerebral palsy in the child. These infections can adversely impact fetal brain development, contributing to neurological complications and movement disorders.


A stroke occurring before, during, or shortly after birth can lead to cerebral palsy (CP). The interruption of blood supply to the developing brain damages brain tissue, affecting motor control and causing movement impairments. This vascular event, disrupting oxygen flow to the brain, is one of the potential causes of CP, leading to long-term neurological consequences affecting movement and muscle coordination.

Lack of oxygen

Lack of oxygen, known as birth asphyxia, during labor or delivery, is a potential cause of cerebral palsy. Oxygen deprivation to the infant's brain can result in brain damage, leading to motor and developmental issues.

Bleeding into the brain 

Intracranial bleeding in a baby's brain, often due to trauma during birth or prematurity, can result in cerebral palsy. The bleeding causes damage to brain tissue, impacting motor function and contributing to the development of CP.

Classification of Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is classified based on movement patterns and affected body parts into spastic, dyskinetic, ataxic, or mixed types, each exhibiting unique symptoms and impairments.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy 

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common subtype, characterized by muscle stiffness and increased muscle tone, leading to stiff, jerky movements. It presents as unilateral or bilateral spasticity, affecting one or both sides of the body. This subtype can further manifest as spastic hemiplegia (one side affected), spastic diplegia (lower body acted more than upper), or spastic quadriplegia (all four limbs affected, along with trunk and face).

It stems from brain damage affecting motor control centers before, during, or after birth. Factors like prenatal infections, oxygen deprivation, or brain bleeding contribute to this damage, resulting in impaired muscle control and movement, defining the spastic form of cerebral palsy.

Typical signs of Spastic Cerebral Palsy

Keeping an eye out for this condition can help you seek the proper care at the right time.

Muscle stiffness and tightness

  • Muscle stiffness and tightness characterize spastic cerebral palsy, leading to difficulties in movement and coordination.
  • This increased muscle tone results in rigidity and involuntary muscle contractions, impacting mobility and causing jerky or stiff movements.

Involuntary muscle contractions

  • Involuntary muscle contractions, known as spasms or hypertonia, are symptoms of spastic cerebral palsy.
  • These contractions result in stiffness, muscle tightness, and jerky movements, impacting motor function and coordination.

Abnormal posture, such as a clenched fist or turned-in foot

  • Abnormal postures, like a clenched fist (known as a fist deformity) or inward-turning foot (equinovarus), are common in spastic cerebral palsy.
  • These postures stem from increased muscle tone and tightness, impacting limb positioning.

Muscle spasms or tremors

  • Muscle spasms or tremors, typical in spastic cerebral palsy, involve involuntary and repetitive muscle movements.
  • These spasms or tremors can affect various body parts, contributing to movement difficulties and challenges in coordination.

Athetoid cerebral palsy 

Athetoid cerebral palsy, a type within CP, presents with involuntary and uncontrollable movements, often slow and writhing in nature. Brain damage to the basal ganglia contributes to this subtype, disrupting motor control. The damage can occur before birth due to factors like oxygen deprivation, premature birth, or brain infections. Athetoid CP is characterized by difficulty maintaining posture and voluntary movements, affecting daily activities.

Typical signs of athetoid cerebral palsy

Feeding issues

  • Individuals with athetoid cerebral palsy may face feeding difficulties due to involuntary and uncontrolled movements.
  • These involuntary movements can affect chewing, swallowing, and maintaining proper mouth control during feeding, leading to challenges in eating and drinking.

Problems with posture

  • Athetoid cerebral palsy often presents with difficulties in maintaining a stable posture.
  • Involuntary movements and fluctuating muscle tone make sustaining a steady and controlled body position challenging, impacting sitting or standing stability.

Stiff body

  • Athetoid cerebral palsy might involve fluctuating muscle tone, leading to periods of stiffness or rigidity in the body.
  • These fluctuations between low and high muscle tone can result in sudden stiffness, impacting movement fluidity and posture control.

Ataxic cerebral palsy

Ataxic cerebral palsy, a subtype of CP, is characterized by uncoordinated movements, tremors, and balance issues. Damage to the cerebellum, often due to brain injury or oxygen deprivation during birth, causes this form. Individuals with ataxic CP exhibit balance, depth perception, and precise coordination challenges. These difficulties affect walking, reaching for objects, and maintaining stability.

Typical signs of ataxic cerebral palsy

Speech difficulties

Individuals with ataxic cerebral palsy may experience speech difficulties.

These difficulties include irregular speech rhythm, slurred or imprecise articulation, and difficulty controlling vocal pitch and volume.

Poor coordination

Ataxic cerebral palsy often leads to poor coordination and unsteady movements.

Individuals may display shaky or uncontrolled limb movements, making tasks requiring precise coordination, like writing or buttoning, challenging.

Spreading feet apart when walking

  • Walking with a wide-based gait, where individuals spread their feet apart, is a common characteristic of ataxic cerebral palsy.
  • This widened stance aims to provide stability and compensate for balance issues while walking.

Hypotonic cerebral palsy 

Hypotonic cerebral palsy is marked by low muscle tone, causing reduced muscle strength and difficulty controlling movements. Individuals with this type may experience difficulty maintaining posture, achieving motor milestones, and fine motor control due to decreased muscle tone. This subtype contrasts with other CP types characterized by heightened muscle tone, presenting unique motor function and physical development challenges.

Typical signs of hypotonic cerebral palsy

Loose muscles

  • Hypotonic cerebral palsy is defined by loose or decreased muscle tone.
  • This condition reduces muscle strength, impacting posture control and movement coordination.

Lack of head control

  • Hypotonic cerebral palsy often results in a lack of head control.
  • Individuals may struggle to maintain stable head positioning due to decreased muscle tone and weakened neck muscles.

Poor balance and stability

  • Hypotonic cerebral palsy can lead to poor balance and strength.
  • Reduced muscle tone affects postural control, making maintaining balance and stability during movement or while standing challenging.

Mixed-type cerebral palsy 

Mixed-type cerebral palsy, a combination of spasticity with other CP subtypes, presents with various movement challenges. It involves a blend of symptoms, such as muscle stiffness from spastic CP, coupled with difficulties in coordination, involuntary movements, or reduced muscle tone from other types. Individuals with mixed CP experience, a combination of motor impairments, requiring tailored therapies addressing the diverse symptoms.

Variability in muscle tone throughout the body

  • Mixed cerebral palsy involves varying muscle tone, displaying spasticity (increased muscle tone) and hypotonia (decreased muscle tone) in different body areas.
  • This variability contributes to diverse movement challenges.

Challenges with coordination and fine motor skills

  • Mixed cerebral palsy often presents difficulties with coordination and fine motor skills.
  • Due to varied muscle tone, individuals may experience difficulties in precise movements, such as grasping objects or performing intricate tasks.

Challenges with speech and communication

  • Mixed cerebral palsy can lead to challenges in speech and communication.
  • Due to varied motor impairments, individuals may encounter difficulties in articulation, vocal control, or expressing themselves verbally.

Risk factors with an increased risk of cerebral palsy

Here are several risk factors for cerebral palsy. Understanding them can equip individuals to make better decisions.

Maternal health

Maternal health is crucial during pregnancy, impacting the risk of cerebral palsy. Regular prenatal care, avoiding harmful substances like tobacco or alcohol, managing chronic conditions, and preventing infections are essential for reducing the likelihood of developmental complications contributing to CP.

Infant illness

Infant illnesses, especially those causing high fever or severe infections during the first years of life, can increase the risk of cerebral palsy. Addressing and promptly treating such illnesses may help mitigate potential neurological complications leading to CP.

Pregnancy and Birth-Related Factors

Pregnancy and birth-related factors, such as premature birth, low birth weight, multiple births, prolonged labor, birth complications, infections during pregnancy, or lack of oxygen during birth, can significantly influence the risk of cerebral palsy development.

Cerebral Palsy Categories Based on the Affected Body Parts


Hemiplegia, a type of cerebral palsy, involves muscle weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. Individuals with hemiplegic CP may experience mobility issues, impaired motor skills, and challenges performing tasks on the affected side due to damage or abnormalities in the brain's motor areas.


Diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, primarily affects the lower body, resulting in muscle stiffness, weakness, or impairments predominantly in the legs, impacting mobility and motor control.


Monoplegia, a subtype of cerebral palsy, involves paralysis or weakness limited to a single limb, such as an arm or a leg, causing challenges specific to the affected limb's motor function and mobility.


Quadriplegia, a severe form of cerebral palsy, impacts all four limbs along with the trunk and face, leading to significant challenges in movement, muscle control, and functional abilities, affecting various aspects of daily life.

Assessment and Diagnostic Process of Cerebral Palsy

The assessment and diagnostic process for cerebral palsy involves neurological exams, medical history reviews, imaging tests, and developmental evaluations to determine the type, severity, and underlying causes, facilitating tailored interventions, therapy plans, and support strategies for individuals managing CP.

What are the Ways to Prevent Cerebral Palsy

There are several ways to prevent Cerebral Palsy. It can be prenatal care, postnatal care, and lifestyle changes.

Ensure you receive your vaccinations.

Receiving vaccinations helps protect against preventable diseases, safeguards personal health, and contributes to community immunity.

Pursue timely and consistent prenatal healthcare.

Seeking timely and consistent prenatal health care ensures comprehensive monitoring, early detection of potential issues, and optimal care for the health of both mother and baby.

Healthy lifestyle of expectant mothers

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy, including balanced nutrition, regular exercise, adequate rest, and avoiding harmful substances, supports optimal fetal development and maternal well-being.

Birth injury prevention

Birth injury prevention involves proper prenatal care, monitoring labor, skilled delivery, and timely medical interventions to reduce risks and ensure the safety and health of both mother and baby.

How is Cerebral Palsy Treated?

Cerebral Palsy can be treated using several techniques, depending on the condition and severity. 

Physical Therapy 

Physical therapy for cerebral palsy involves tailored exercises, stretches, and techniques to improve muscle tone, mobility, and coordination, aiming to enhance functional abilities and overall quality of life for individuals managing this condition.


Cerebral palsy rehabilitation entails diverse physical, occupational, and speech therapies, focusing on enhancing motor skills, daily function, and communication abilities, aiming to maximize independence and overall well-being in affected individuals.

Occupational & Speech Therapy

Occupational and speech therapies for cerebral palsy address daily living skills, fine motor control, and communication challenges. These therapies aim to improve functional abilities and enhance vocabulary, enabling individuals to engage more actively in daily activities.


Medications for cerebral palsy may target specific symptoms like muscle stiffness or seizures. Muscle relaxants, anti-spasticity medications, or anti-seizure drugs are prescribed to manage symptoms and improve daily function in individuals with CP.

Assistive devices

Assistive devices for cerebral palsy aid mobility, communication, and daily tasks. Wheelchairs, braces, communication boards, and adaptive tools cater to individual needs, enhancing independence and facilitating better engagement in various activities for those with CP.

Enhancing the quality of care for individuals with cerebral palsy with Physiotattva

Empower your journey with Physiotattva's specialized care for cerebral palsy—experience tailored therapies, personalized strategies, and compassionate support that prioritize your needs. From enhancing mobility to fostering independence, our expert team is dedicated to improving your quality of life. Take a step towards better care and a brighter future. Connect with us today for comprehensive and individualized cerebral palsy management.


What is the leading cause of cerebral palsy?

The primary cause of cerebral palsy is brain damage or abnormal brain development before, during, or shortly after birth.

What are all the body parts affected by cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy can affect various body parts, impacting muscles, coordination, and movement in limbs, trunk, and face, and may involve speech, vision, or hearing impairments.

How can we prevent cerebral palsy?

Preventing cerebral palsy involves prenatal care, avoiding risk factors like infections, ensuring a healthy pregnancy, and timely medical interventions during birth to minimize potential brain injuries or complications.

What are the standard treatments for cerebral palsy?

Common treatments for cerebral palsy include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medications, and orthopedic interventions to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

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