Spastic Cerebral Palsy

The most common form is defined as spastic cerebral palsy, affecting over half of those with the condition. It may occur in a mixed form and is most commonly associated with athetoid movements but may be also associated with the ataxic form of the condition and occasionally all three forms are present together. Spastic is the term that refers to muscle tone being too high or tight causing stiff and jerky movements. Affected children have one or more tight muscle groups which limit movement and usually have difficulty moving from one position to another and often cannot easily hold or release objects. These rigid movements can be controlled by certain treatment methods that may include drugs, therapy, and various equipment. When both legs are affected it is known as spastic diplegia and a child may have difficulty walking because tight muscles in the hips and legs cause the legs to turn inward and cross at the knees so that the legs move awkwardly and stiffly which causes a characteristic walking rhythm known as the scissors gait. In other cases, only one side of the body is affected which is known as spastic hemiplegia and often the arm is more severely affected than the leg. Most severe is spastic quadriplegia in which all four limbs and the trunk are affected, often along with the muscles controlling the mouth and tongue. Children with spastic quadriplegia usually have mental retardation, difficulty in speaking and other problems. Some children also suffer from hemiparetic tremors, in which uncontrollable shaking affects the limbs on one side of the body which often seriously impairs movement.

Cerebral Palsy is classified according to the number of limbs involved. One side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body so that when one side of the brain is damaged the effects are seen on the other side of the body. Medical practitioners classify spastic cerebral palsy as follows:

  • Spastic Quadriplegia - all 4 of the limbs are involved
  • Spastic Diplegia - either both legs or both arms are involved though legs are usually affected more than arms
  • Spastic Hemiplegia - one side of the body is affected, usually the arm more than the leg
  • Spastic Triplegia - 3 limbs are involved, usually one leg and both arms
  • Spastic Monoplegia - 1 limb is affected, usually an arm

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