Different Forms of Cerebral Palsy

What Are The Different Types of Cerebral Palsy

The different types of cerebral palsy make it difficult to transmit messages sent by the brain to the muscles. Cerebral palsy is caused by abnormal development or damage to the developing brain.

In simple words, Cerebral Palsy is considered a permanent disorder of posture (paralysis), balance, and movement. It involves weakness or problems using muscles. And as the name implies, it is directly related to the brain.

Types and Forms of Cerebral Palsy

There are different types and forms of cerebral palsy, according to the criteria considered for its classification. Among others, there is the one that uses scales to assess the degree of autonomy of each patient, there is also the Classification System of Postural Motor Function, there is the classification by topographic criteria, depending on the part of the body that is affected, or the one that classifies cerebral palsy according to the severity with which it manifests itself and the most common one, which is based on the tone and posture of the person.

Classification according to the tone and posture of the affected

This classification, presented in 1951 by Dr. Eric Denhoff, Medical Director of the “Meeting Street School for Cerebral Palsy”, considers 4 types of Cerebral Palsy, and as its name implies, it is based on muscle tone and posture.

Spastic Cerebral Palsy (Pyramidal)

In simple terms, the meaning of Spasticity is stiffness. People with this type of cerebral palsy have difficulty controlling the movement of some or all of their muscles. These tend to stretch and weaken and these muscles are the ones that support arms, legs or head.

The affected limbs have increased muscle tone, with muscles constantly contracting, while the opposing or antagonistic muscles are too weak. This behavior generates an imbalance of forces, affecting the joints and decreasing mobility.

The Spastic Cerebral Palsy (Pyramidal), occurs as a result of the abnormal functioning of the nerve cells of the outer layer of the brain or cortex. This abnormal functioning causes an increase in muscle tone, the stiffness of some muscles and makes movement difficult.

Although sometimes it only affects one part of the body, it can also be the case that it affects both the arms and the legs, the trunk and the face.

Pyramidal or Spastic Cerebral Palsy is the most common type. It has a high incidence, 60 to 70%, among people with cerebral palsy.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy (Extrapyramidal or Dyskinetic)

The simple meaning of Dyskinesia is movement disorder. Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy, also called Extrapyramidal or Non-Spastic Cerebral Palsy, is mainly characterized by causing slow, uncoordinated and unconscious movements, which hinder voluntary activity. Tiredness and stress cause these movements to become more apparent, while at rest, they attenuate and disappear during sleep.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy is caused by abnormal functioning of the central part of the brain.

Commonly, people with Non-Spastic (Extrapyramidal) Cerebral Palsy have muscles that quickly go from loose to tight. His arms and legs perform uncontrolled movements. They are often difficult to understand when speaking, as they have difficulty controlling their tongue, breathing, and vocal cords.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy is relatively rare, with an incidence of between 10-15% of those affected.

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxia is an alteration, both in balance and in coordination. People with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy have difficulty completing fine movements and also managing balance. It is due to an injury to the cerebellum. Depending on the degree of this injury, those who suffer from it may walk, but unstable.

Ataxic cerebral palsy is the rarest.

Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Mixed Cerebral Palsy is the product of lesions in various structures of the brain. In this sense, the characteristics of the other different types of cerebral palsy will not manifest themselves only or in their pure forms. As the name shows, the demonstrations will be mixed, that is, there will be combinations.

Different Forms of Cerebral Palsy


Cerebral palsy can occur during pregnancy (~75%), at birth (~5%) or after birth (~15%). 80% of the causes are unknown. For the small number where the cause is known this can include infections, lack of iodine and significant head injury in very early childhood.


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