What is Mixed Cerebral Palsy?

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  • Written By: Elva K.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2018
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As its name suggests, mixed cerebral palsy can be described as a medical condition in which an individual has multiple cerebral palsy types. For example, the condition could be a mixture of ataxic, athetoid, spastic, or other cerebral palsy that occurred as a result of brain damage that took place either before or during the birth process. The ataxic type affects balance and muscle coordination, the athetoid type often is characterized by involuntary muscle movements, and the spastic type of cerebral palsy includes movement difficulties.

Typically, causes of this condition include brain damage that occurs to basal ganglia or the cerebellum, infections that occur to the mother during pregnancy, or meningitis infection in the fetus. Also involved in some cases are strokes which occur to the fetus, insufficient oxygen in the birth process, jaundice, or errors made by medical personnel. Examples of errors that medical personnel make which can lead to this condition include errors such as failing to do a cesarean delivery, failing in detecting medical problems the baby or mother has, and failing to treat appropriately if the umbilical cord wraps around the baby's neck.


Diagnosis of this condition does not occur immediately after birth; however, as the mixture of cerebral palsy symptomology becomes more apparent as the child gets older, the diagnosis is made using electrocardiograms (ECGs) and brain imaging scanners. The age at which diagnosis occurs depends on which cerebral palsy type is dominant in the individual who has mixed cerebral palsy. Quite often, spasticity is observable before athetoid symptoms show. Also, developmental delays such as difficulty with head control, difficulty crawling, standing or walking, limited range of joint motion, atypical posture or muscle tone, or early hand preferences are common in mixed cerebral palsy cases.

Mixed cerebral palsy symptoms can get worse over time if the individual does not get appropriate medical treatment. Treatment is usually focused on limiting or controlling symptoms. Treatments vary according to the particular symptoms an individual displays.

For example, spasticity symptoms can be reduced if medication is given. Stiff muscles can be treated if surgery is done. If visual or hearing difficulties are present, these can be corrected if the individual uses hearing aids, eyeglasses or other assisting tools. Also, physical therapy treatments are common in cases of mixed cerebral palsy because physical therapy helps make the muscles stronger while also preventing muscle atrophy.



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