What Is Mixed Cerebral Palsy?


Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a condition caused by damage to parts of the brain that affect movement and coordination. The brain damage usually happens before or during birth but can also occur shortly after birth. Cerebral palsy may be mild, moderate, or severe. Symptoms vary depending on what parts of the brain were damaged, but always include problems with movement and with posture. There are several types of cerebral palsy. People who have damage to more than one part of the brain and symptoms of more than one type of CP are said to have mixed cerebral palsy.

Classifications of Cerebral Palsy

There are several main classifications of cerebral palsy. These types of CP correspond to different areas of the brain that are affected which, in turn, cause different types of movement disorders. The classifications are:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy, which causes muscle stiffness
  • Athetoid cerebral palsy (also called “dyskinetic cerebral palsy”), which causes uncontrollable movements
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy, which causes problems with coordination and balance

The fourth main classification of CP is called mixed cerebral palsy. This condition occurs when there is damage to multiple areas of the brain. About 10 percent of people with cerebral palsy have the mixed type.

Types of Mixed Cerebral Palsy

People with mixed CP may have any combination of the other three types. Some combinations, however, are more common than others. The most common combination is spastic and athetoid CP. The least common combination is ataxic and athetoid CP. Some people have symptoms of all the other three types, although that is as common as having symptoms of two types.

The most common symptoms of mixed CP are stiff muscles and involuntary movements. Other symptoms may include:

  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Problems with balance
  • Problems with vision, hearing, or speech
  • Drooling and difficulty swallowing
  • Learning difficulties
  • Spine or joint abnormalities

Diagnosing Mixed Cerebral Palsy

All children should be monitored for cerebral palsy during regular check-ups. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends developmental screening tests at 9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months.

Symptoms of cerebral palsy may not appear until a child is several months old or older. CP is often diagnosed when a child is between one and three years old, and it may take longer to diagnose mixed CP. When doctors diagnose a child with mixed CP, they may diagnose spastic CP first.

Treating Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy, unfortunately, can’t be cured. But treatments are available to improve the lives of people with CP. The earlier you can start treatment, the better.

The treatment that people with mixed cerebral palsy will need depends on which combination of symptoms they have, and that will vary from one person to another. Treatment options include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Recreational therapy
  • Treatment for eating difficulties and drooling
  • Oral medications
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Surgery for vision problems
  • Surgery to cut nerves
  • Electronic assistive devices, including computers, software, and voice synthesizers
  • Orthotic assistive devices, including braces, splints, wedges, and special chairs
  • Mobility assistive devices, including wheelchairs, walkers, and powered scooters
  • Vision assistance, including glasses, large-print books, magnifiers, and computer displays
  • Hearing assistance, including hearing aids and telephone adapters

If medical malpractice contributed to your child’s developing mixed cerebral palsy, you may be entitled to compensation to help pay for the costs of the treatments your child needs, as well as other expenses involved in their care.

Causes of Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Most brain damage that causes mixed cerebral palsy happens before or during birth. Some risk factors make it more likely that a child will develop CP. These risk factors include:

  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth
  • Being a twin or triplet
  • Conceived using infertility treatments
  • Infections during pregnancy
  • Severe jaundice
  • Mother having certain medical conditions
  • Birth complications that disrupt the baby’s oxygen supply
  • Medical negligence

Medical Malpractice and Mixed Cerebral Palsy

Doctors, other medical professionals, and hospitals are all required to meet certain professional standards. If they make medical mistakes that fall below that standard, they may have committed medical malpractice.

If a medical mistake, carelessness, or improper treatment contributed to your child getting cerebral palsy, you may be able to sue to get compensation for the costs of taking care of your child, including costs for medical appointments and procedures, therapy, and assistive devices. You may also be entitled to compensation for your child’s pain and suffering.

Pinpointing and proving the causes of mixed cerebral palsy is difficult. You will need an experienced birth injury lawyer. Your lawyer will work with medical experts to determine whether the medical professionals who treated your child were negligent and if that negligence contributed to your child’s condition.

The experienced Cerebral Palsy lawyers at the Raynes & Lawn law firm are ready to help. We have been helping our clients get justice for more than 50 years. We are honored to have been recognized repeatedly for our excellence, including being named a Tier One law firm by Best Lawyers in America for our medical malpractice work. If you have a child with cerebral palsy, and you want to find out more about your legal options, please call us a call at 1-800-535-1797. We would be glad to talk to you and evaluate your case with no cost to you and no obligation.


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