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How Can We Describe Cerebral Palsy?

There are a few ways to describe the different forms that cerebral palsy takes in those who have it. One way is to talk about which limbs are affected by the diagnosis. The Cerebral Palsy Alliance presents the following infographic describing quadriplegia (all four limbs affected), diplegia (both legs affected), and hemiplegia (one leg and one arm on the same side of the body is affected). Monoplegia (one limb affected) is also possible.

plegia info 2.PNG

This image comes from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance:

spastic ataxic dyskinetic.PNG

This image comes from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance:

Although these classifications are used clinically, they are by no means exhaustive and do not entirely define the individual. Additionally, CP is actually an evolving diagnosis. For example, CP will look different in a baby than in an older child, and different in a child than in an adult (Rosenbaum, 2012).

In combination with the above method of description, many people describe their CP as being either spastic, ataxic, dyskinetic, or mixed type CP.  For example, someone may say that they have “spastic diplegic cerebral palsy.” The type of cerebral palsy one has depends on the part of the brain that has been damaged.

For more information on spastic, ataxic, and dyskinetic CP, look here.

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