The Four Kinds of Cerebral Palsy

Child with cerebral palsy

Most people don’t realize that there are several kinds of cerebral palsy (CP). Each is the result of an injury to a different part of the baby’s brain. Understanding the four kinds of cerebral palsy can help parents identify early warning signs and gain a better understanding of the difficulties people with CP face.


Spastic is, by far, the most common kind of cerebral palsy. For that reason, it is also the kind most people envision when they think of CP.

Speech impediments, difficulty walking, and rigid limbs, are the most noticeable symptoms of spastic cerebral palsy. Movement restrictions are largely dependent on what part of the brain was damaged. Cerebral palsy can affect the legs, a single side of the child’s body, or even their entire body.


Ataxic CP is the direct result of damage to a child’s cerebellum, the part at the back of the brain responsible for balance and coordination. Symptoms associated with this type of brain damage include tremors, difficulty walking, speech impairment, and issues with depth perception.


Athetoid CP affects the ganglia, the center of the brain. This causes difficulty in controlling any part of the body, even the torso. People with Athetoid CP may experience involuntary movement, unfocused vision, and difficulty chewing and swallowing.


Mixed CP describes damage to multiple parts of the brain. Mixed conditions combine the traits of other types of CP, usually spastic and athetoid. However, mixed symptoms only appear in 10% of all CP cases.

Spastic CP and Birth Injuries

Spastic cerebral palsy makes up nearly 80% of all CP cases. This hardly seems like a coincidence. Spastic CP translates as damage to the motor cortex. The motor cortex is at the top of the head, almost directly beneath a baby’s primary soft spot.

Doctors must exercise extreme caution when delivering a baby. A child’s life could be forever changed from a single moment of medical negligence. Nearly 20% of CP cases are completely avoidable, and yet 2,000 American babies are impacted by this form of brain damage every year.

If your child suffered a severe birth injury, we will listen. If you’d like an experienced North Carolina birth injury attorneys from Daniel, Holoman & Associates LLP to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (866) 380-2281.