Birth injuries are relatively rare, occurring in only about five out of every 1,000 births in the United States. Unfortunately, they can cause lifelong disabilities when they do occur.
Cerebral palsy is a disability that causes muscle dysfunction due to damage to the brain. Mistakes by the doctor during childbirth can cause brain damage resulting in cerebral palsy. Damage to the brain can affect the muscles in different ways. Therefore, doctors identify different types of cerebral palsy.
(Article continues below infographic)
Ataxic cerebral palsy
This type affects coordination and balance. With ataxic cerebral palsy, it is difficult to perform movements that require a great deal of muscle control. It is also difficult to make quick movements or to remain steady when walking.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy causes uncontrollable muscle movements of the arms, feet, hands, legs and sometimes the face. Muscle tone can vary periodically, sometimes too loose, then becoming too tight. The quality of movement can change as well; it may be either rapid and jerky or writhing and slow.
Spastic cerebral palsy
About 80% of people with cerebral palsy have the spastic type. This causes the muscles to become stiff due to abnormally increased muscle tone. The spasticity may affect all four extremities or the legs only. It may also affect only one side of the body, either the left or right.
There is also a mixed type that combines symptoms of two of the other types. Spastic-dyskinetic CP, characterized by stiff muscles and uncontrollable movement, is the most common mixed type.