Types of cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy can be described by the way it affects people’s movement, the part of the body affected and by how severe the affects are.

Quadriplegia (a form of bilateral cerebral palsy)

quadriplegia icon

Both arms and legs are affected. The muscles of the trunk, face and mouth are often also affected.

Diplegia (a form of bilateral cerebral palsy)

diplegia icon

Both legs are affected. The arms may be affected to a lesser extent.

Hemiplegia (a form of unilateral cerebral palsy)


One side of the body (one arm and one leg) is affected.

Other Classifications



  • The most common form of cerebral palsy
  • Muscles feel stiff and tight

More about Spastic cerebral palsy »



  • Characterised by involuntary movements (i.e. out of a person’s control)

More about Dyskinetic cerebral palsy »



  • Characterised by shaky movements
  • Affects balance and sense of positioning in space

More about Ataxic cerebral palsy »

Mixed Type


  • Cans, C., Dolk, H., Platt, M. J., Colver, A., Prasauskiene, A., & Krageloh-Mann, I. (2007). Recommendations from the SCPE collaborative group for defining and classifying cerebral palsy. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 49(Suppl 1), 9-24.
  • Krageloh-Mann, I., & Cans, C. (2009). Cerebral palsy update. Brain Development, 31(7), 537-544. doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.2009.03.009 See abstract
  • McIntyre, S., Morgan, C., Walker, K., & Novak, I. (2011). Cerebral palsy–don’t delay. Devolpmental Disability Research Reviews, 17(2), 114-129. doi: 10.1002/ddrr.1106 See abstract
  • Paneth, N. (2008). Establishing the diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology, 51(4), 742-748. doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e318187081a See abstract

(Update: 18 Nov 2015)