Written by

Darren Tamplin-Compton - Senior Solicitor

Has your child been diagnosed with cerebral palsy? If so, you may be wondering what it means, here we are going to explain: 

  • What Cerebral Palsy is 
  • The different types of cerebral palsy 
  • How to help your child with cerebral palsy 


What is cerebral palsy? 

Cerebral Palsy is a motor disability that is caused by brain damage which is triggered at the time of childbirth. It is the most common motor disability in childhood. The NHS say symptoms of cerebral palsy include: 

  • Delayed development such as not sitting by 8 months or not walking by 18 months 
  • Appear to be too stiff or too floppy (hypotonia) 
  • They have weak arms or legs 
  • They show fidgety, jerky or clumsy movements 
  • They have random, uncontrolled movements 
  • Experience muscle spasms 
  • Their hands are shaking (tremors) 
  • They walk on tiptoes  

Cerebral palsy is defined by the NHS as a “name of lifelong conditions that affect movement and co-ordination. It’s caused by a problem with the brain that develops before, during or soon after birth.” 


Types of cerebral palsy 

Cerebral Palsy Guide say that there are 5 different types of cerebral palsy and some are more common than others, as the below chart shows: 

Spastic Cerebral Palsy (77%): 

According to the NHS spastic cerebral palsy is when muscles are tight, particularly when trying to move quickly. Therefore, movement is restricted, and the range of movement is limited. 


Mixed Cerebral Palsy (15%): 

Mixed cerebral palsy is diagnosed when a child displays symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy, say the Cerebral Palsy Guide. This means that the child is likely to have a group of neurological disorder which can affect motor and development skills. Due to the nature of mixed cerebral palsy, a child may have brain damage in more than one area which can result in a variety of physical and neurological symptoms. The cerebral palsy guide outlines the symptoms of mixed cerebral palsy here. 


Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy (3%): 

Hypotonic cerebral palsy is much less common than spastic or mixed cerebral palsy. Surestep say that hypotonic cerebral palsy can cause hypotonia (low tone muscle), which means that your child’s muscles could be too relaxed. This can make everyday movement such as walking difficult. It is important to understand here that muscle tone and muscle strength are different, therefore time at the gym is unlikely to help your child; as it is stability they are deficient in, and not strength. 


Athetoid Cerebral Palsy (3%): 

Athetoid cerebral palsy can also be known as dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Nemours Kids Health say that this type of cerebral palsy can affect a child’s control of muscles movements, meaning that could experience twisting and abrupt movements.  


Ataxic Cerebral Palsy (2%): 

Ataxic cerebral palsy is the least common type of cerebral palsy. It can cause poor coordination, balance and affect depth perception, according to cerebral palsy guidance, and is caused by damage to the centre of the brain (cerebellum) – which is what is responsible for movement commands around the body. 


How to help your child with cerebral palsy 

The NHS say there is currently no known cure for cerebral palsy, yet there are some treatments on offer which can help people who suffer from the disability to increase their mobility. An exqmple is that someone with the condition can work with medical professionals to create a care plan to meet their needs, reassess the plan when these needs change. 

Some of the treatments suggested by the NHS include: 

  • Physiotherapy – this is to help your child maintain and improvement and is one of the most important treatments for cerebral palsy 
  • Speech and language therapy – this is to help your child if they have difficulty communicating 
  • Occupational therapy – this can help identify any issues your child has in carrying out everyday tasks 
  • Surgery can be carried out to help children who have mobility issues and can be performed to help with other symptoms as well 

Medicine can be prescribed to help ease symptoms of cerebral palsy. Some of the medicines prescribe include: 

  • Diazepam for muscle stiffness 
  • Melatonin for sleeping difficulties 
  • Anti-seizure medicines to help with epilepsy 
  • Laxatives can sometimes be provided to help with constipation 
  • Painkillers to help ease any discomfort 
  • Medicine can also be prescribed to help reduce drooling 

The NHS also acknowledge that some child with cerebral palsy can have issues with swallowing food and/or drooling. 

Some techniques to help treat difficulties involving swallowing include: 

  • Swallowing techniques and exercise taught by a speech and language therapist 
  • Changes in diet for your child so they eat softer or liquid foods 
  • A feeding tube may be require in more serious cases 

For drooling: 

  • Techniques and exercises can also be taught by a speech and language therapist 
  • Medicines to reduce the amount of saliva produced 
  • Injections into saliva glands 
  • Surgery to redirect saliva to the back of the mouth 


Cerebral palsy negligence claims 

If you or your child has suffered medical negligence relating to cerebral palsy, our medical negligence experts are here to help and have helped people in a similar situation. In the past we have helped many patients claim compensation as a result of cerebral palsy. 

Concerned about your medical treatment?

Contact us today!

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