Hemiparetic and Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy

Hemiparetic and Hemiplegic Cerebral PalsyCerebral palsy can take on many forms. Due to the wide variety of types possible, the symptoms that characterize this disability are also very diverse. There are two types of cerebral palsy, hemiparetic and hemiplegic, share very similar symptoms, although they are different. With both forms, the result is a person who only has one side of their body affected by the disorder. Of the two, hemiplegic is the more serious version and involves complete paralysis of the side afflicted. Someone with hemiparetic cerebral palsy will only have mild paralysis on the side suffering from it and some muscle weakness.

What Causes Hemiparetic and Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy?

Like all forms of cerebral palsy, hemiparetic and hemiplegic both have their origins in a brain injury. These two forms also account for roughly 60% of all those with cerebral palsy in the United States. Typically, they are diagnosed with the disorder before turning three.

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), a few risk factors are shared by those with the disability. These are:

  • Asphyxia during birth
  • Placental or maternal infection
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Mother and infant blood incompatibility
  • Infant stroke

In at least two thirds of the cases, infant stroke is to blame. Usually, this will cause a seizure in the infant within a few days of being born. However, there are many cases where the seizure’s effects are not noticeable until months after the birth or even years later.

Like we said earlier, children who have hemiparetic cerebral palsy are not completely paralyzed. It is either the right or left side of their body that suffers from general weakness. However, this can make it very challenging for the person to carry out everyday activities.

Children who have hemiplegic cerebral palsy have absolutely no use of one side of the body. This means their shoulder; arm, hand, leg and foot are all completely paralyzed.

Common Symptoms

Each child will have different symptoms, which is typical of cerebral palsy. Some children may have all of the following traits, while others may only exhibit a few. Nonetheless, if you think your child may be suffering from cerebral palsy, keep an eye out to see if they:

  • Keep one hand balled in constant fist
  • Only use one hand when playing (this usually begins happening before the child turns three)
  • Face a delay in reaching developmental milestones
  • Have problems walking or keeping their balance when standing
  • Are extremely weak on one side of the body or experiences muscle stiffness

Other Conditions to Consider

Any injury in the brain can manifest itself throughout the body. Once again, your child could exhibit just one of the following conditions or many:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or paying attention
  • Trouble organizing, planning and carrying out plans
  • Impaired vision or poor eye coordination
  • Irritability, emotional outbursts, mood swings or hyperactivity
  • Seizures right after birth or within a few months or years of being born

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, there is no cure for any form of cerebral palsy. However, neither disorder is progressive. There are also a number of treatments that are available to help make life easier for those suffering from the disorder. These include:

  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Seizure medication
  • Splints
  • Braces
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Sensory integration

Many children who have hemiparetic or hemiplegic cerebral palsy are still able to attend traditional schools. However, they may need help with staying organized or taking on challenging subject matter.

This is why a lot of children with this type of cerebral palsy attend specialized classes with teachers who are equipped to help them meet their potential.


Like we covered earlier, neither form is progressive, which is a positive thing as far as a prognosis goes. It may take time to find the right combination of treatment and therapy, but when you do; your child should have no problem thriving mentally.

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