Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Spastic cerebral palsy affects 60 to 80 percent of all cerebral palsy patients, the muscles are stiffly and permanently contracted. Additional types of spastic cerebral palsy are broken down based on which limbs are affected. The spasticity is due to upper motor neuron involvement and may mildly or severely affect motor function. The affected limbs appear stiff and difficult to move.
What is Spastic Cerebral Palsy?
Often after a diagnosis of spastic CP, parents will ask what all does Spastic CP really mean. In a child with spastic cerebral plasy the limbs are usually underdeveloped and show increased deep tendon reflexes and muscular hypertonicity, weakness and a tendency to contractures. The word spastic refers to muscle tone being too high or tight which causes stiff and jerky movements.
What are Spastic Cerebral Palsy Symptoms ?
The typical symptoms of spastic CP help to categorize the types of Spastic CP. These symptoms and description of the problem combine a Latin description of affected limbs with the term plegia or paresis, meaning paralyzed or weak. When both legs are affected by spasticity, they may turn in and cross at the knees. As these children walk, their legs move awkwardly and stiffly and nearly touch at the knees. This causes a characteristic walking rhythm, known as the scissor gait. Children with spastic hemiparesis may also experience hemiparetic tremors, in which uncontrollable shaking affects the limbs on one side of the body. If these tremors are severe, they can seriously impair movement.
Types of Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Affected children usually have difficulty moving from one position to another and often cannot easily hold or release objects, however these rigid movements can often be controlled drugs, therapy and equipment. If both legs are affected it is called spastic diplegia and walking may be difficult because tight muscles in the hips and legs cause the legs to turn inward and cross at the knees which causes a characteristic walking rhythm known as the scissors gait. If just one side of the body is affected the condition is called spastic hemiplegia and the arm is usually more severely affected than the leg.
In cases involving 3 limbs, usually one leg and both arms, then it is referred to as spastic triplegia. Likewise, when spastic cerebral palsy affects only one limb, usually an arm, then it is referred to a spastic monoplegia. Most severe of all is spastic quadriplegia in which all four limbs together the trunk are affected. A spastic quadriplegic child usually will have mental retardation, problems with the muscles controlling the mouth and tongue and difficulty in speaking. Some spastic quadriplegic children also suffer from hemiparetic tremors, in which uncontrollable shaking affects the limbs on one side of the body and impairs normal movement.