Although there’re actually four identified types of cerebral palsy, many people in the general population who have no personal experience with cerebral palsy identify it with the most horrifying symptoms, & the most well-known cases. There is more. The movie “My Left Foot” was about the life story of Christy Brown, an Irish man who was afflicted with one of the more severe types of cerebral palsy. This was only one media device in which one of the more severe types of cerebral palsy, called spastic cerebral palsy, was featured. Spastic cerebral palsy is one of the types of cerebral palsy with symptoms characterized by tight muscle groups & jerky movements.
Approximately 80% of cerebral palsy suffers have this type. The other three types of cerebral palsy include: athetoid, ataxic, & mixed. What many people do not understand is that cerebral palsy is a very broad & general term, used by the medical establishment much like IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, to identify a broad range of conditions. Even the types of cerebral palsy themselves can vary considerably. What characterizes all types of cerebral palsy is a neurological disturbance, occurring early on at birth or in early childhood, which affects the behavior or control of muscles in some way. The severity of the disease, however, can also vary considerably. By example, in the case of Christy Brown, he was left a quadraplegic with limited control of his facial & neck muscles, & with the use of only one of his limbs, his left foot. Other cerebral palsy victims can appear almost normal & have very subdued symptoms, regardless of which type of cerebral palsy they have.
Tension & Resistance in Muscles Divides Types of Cerebral Palsy
So what distinguishes the four different types of cerebral palsy? What professionals call muscle tone. What gives most of us the ability to pick up an object, or do simple tasks like raise our arm to brush our hair, is the ability to increase or decrease tension in our opposing muscle groups. There is more. Those afflicted with cerebral palsy either can notrelease the tension, or they can notapply the tension, for example to grip a toothbrush or to grab onto a tree limb. In a type of cerebral palsy called ataxia, they simply can notcoordinate the muscle tension in a normal manner. Regardless of the type of cerebral palsy, however, the problem is not in the muscles themselves, but in the brain area which controls muscle tone. Whatever type of cerebral palsy one has, information can be easily found on line through many of the cerebral palsy organizations, such as United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), the March of Dimes Birth Defect Foundation & the Childrens Neurobiological Solutions Foundation.