Motor Types of Cerebral Palsy

An illustration spilt into 3 sections. The first illustrates hemiplegia with two figures standing side by side and one half of the body highlighted. The second figure  illustrates diplegia with both legs of the body highlighted while the third figure illustrates quadriplegia with the whole body highlighted.

The specific motor types present in CP are determined by the extent, type, and location of the brain injury. 


Spastic CP is the most common type. People will experience increased muscle tone and their movements may appear stiff or awkward. Different parts of the body can be affected:

  • Spastic hemiplegia/hemiparesis typically affects
    the arm, hand, and leg on one side of the body.
  • Spastic diplegia/diparesis involves muscle
    stiffness that is predominantly in the legs. The arms may
    be affected to a lesser extent
  • Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis is the most
    severe form of CP. It is caused by widespread damage to
    the brain or significant brain malformations.

Dyskinetic motor patterns (also includes athetoid, choreoathetoid, and dystonia) are characterized by slow and uncontrollable writhing or jerky movements of the hands, feet, arms, or legs.


Ataxia affects balance and depth perception. Children with ataxia will often have poor coordination and walk unsteadily with a wide-based gait.


Mixed types of CP refer to symptoms that don’t correspond to any single type of CP but are a mix of types. For example, a child with mixed CP may have some muscles that are too tight and others that are too relaxed.