Difficulties with balance, posture and movement in your baby may indicate cerebral palsy. According to the Centers for Disease Control, CP is the most common childhood movement disability. It arises from damage to the brain that may occur at or prior to birth.

Damage to different areas of the brain can result in four main types of cerebral palsy.

Ataxic cerebral palsy

This type affects coordination and balance. Controlling the arms or hands when reaching for something can be difficult. It can also be hard for someone with ataxic cerebral palsy to perform an activity such as writing that requires significant manual dexterity. Ataxic cerebral palsy can also cause unsteadiness when walking.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy causes uncontrollable muscle movements. It can make it difficult to talk or to swallow if the dyskinesia affects the muscles of the face. Dyskinetic CP may also affect the arms, hands, legs and feet. The quality of the movement can vary; sometimes it is jerky and fast, while other times it is writhing and slow.

Spastic cerebral palsy

Affecting approximately 80% of CP patients, this is the most common type of cerebral palsy. It makes movement difficult or awkward due to extreme muscle stiffness, also known as spasticity. It may be present in all four limbs, or it may affect only the legs. It can also affect one side of the body more than the other.

Mixed cerebral palsy

Some people show symptoms of more than one type of cerebral palsy at the same time. For example, the patient may have stiff muscles and uncontrollable motions. The term for this is spastic-dyskinetic cerebral palsy, and it is the most common of the mixed varieties.

Cerebral palsy can be difficult to diagnose because of the different symptoms it can cause. However, it is important to watch for the signs because treatment is more effective if it starts early.