Types of Cerebral Palsy

Miami & Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Cerebral palsy dramatically impacts your child’s life. Not only does it limit your child’s ability to enjoy normal childhood activities, but it often requires additional care and expensive mobility aids. The degree of aid your child may need depends on the type of cerebral palsy your child has.

If your child’s cerebral palsy is due to a doctor’s negligence, you may be able to receive compensation to help you cover the cost of your child’s care. To learn more about your legal rights and options in the Miami, Florida area, please call 1-800-THE FIRM or email The Cochran Firm South Florida for a free case evaluation.

Traditional Classification

Traditional classification of cerebral palsy focuses on just how your child’s motor function has been altered by the condition. This classification ignores the causes of your child’s cerebral palsy, whether by prenatal infection, postnatal injury, or perinatal medical malpractice. It also ignores the actual functional effects of the condition. The system does have some value, however. Traditional classification divides cerebral palsy into four types:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type of cerebral palsy. It is characterized by contracted muscles that may be completely paralyzed or may be capable of controlled movement. Can affect one or all four limbs, but most commonly impacts two limbs.
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy can result in involuntary movements such as writhing or other slow motions.
  • Dystonic cerebral palsy cases primarily affect the muscles in the torso, and may often result in a fixed, twisted posture. Often, athetoid and dystonic cerebral palsy are lumped together into a single category “dyskinetic” cerebral palsy.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy results in severely diminished muscle tone and poorly coordinated movements. This is the least common form of cerebral palsy.

These types of cerebral palsy are not mutually exclusive, and sometimes children can suffer from more than one. When this occurs, it may be said that children have “mixed” cerebral palsy.

Functional Classification

Another way to classify cerebral palsy is to look at it from the perspective of how significantly your child’s gross motor function has been impaired and therefore how much aid your child will need in living a relatively normal life. This new system divides cerebral palsy into five functional levels:

  • Level I—Child walks without limitations
  • Level II—Child walks with limitations, especially when walking long distances
  • Level III—Child can only walk using a hand-held mobility device
  • Level IV—Child has limited self-mobility. Can sit assisted, but depends on powered or manual wheelchairs to get around.
  • Level V—Child may or may not be able to operate their own powered wheelchair. May depend on others for mobility.

Can You Seek Compensation?

When your child is afflicted with cerebral palsy caused by medical malpractice, you might rightfully believe that the doctors, nurses, and hospital personnel responsible for your child’s birth injury should pay for the care your child now needs. However, it can sometimes be difficult to win a cerebral palsy case. Whether your case has a good chance of success depends on the facts in your case.

For a free case review, please contact The Cochran Firm South Florida in Miami.