Unilateral Cerebral Palsy

Unilateral Cerebral Palsy, which includes hemiplegia and hemiparesis, is a condition that affects muscle control and function on one side of the body. If unilateral Cerebral Palsy results from damage to the left side of the brain, the right side of the body will be affected, and vice-versa. It is a fairly common form of Cerebral Palsy, accounting for upwards of a third of all cases.

Symptoms of Spastic Cerebral Palsy
Among the most common and recognizable symptoms of unilateral Cerebral Palsy are:

  • Weakness, stiffness, and muscular rigidity on one side of the body – especially in the upper part of the body
  • Problems with walking
  • Difficulties with balance
  • Keeping one hand balled into a fist
  • Favoring one hand before age 3
  • Trouble writing or performing tasks that require fine motor skills
  • Developmental delays

Other related conditions that are common among patients with unilateral Cerebral Palsy include:

Problems with speech and language
Behavioral issues
Memory problems
Issues with concentration and organization
Vision and hearing impairment
Causes of Unilateral Cerebral Palsy and Hemiplegia
The root cause of unilateral Cerebral Palsy – as with other forms of Cerebral Palsy – is some type of brain damage. Reduced blood and oxygen supply to the brain during childbirth or soon there often frequently results in unilateral Cerebral Palsy.

There are a number of other conditions that could cause hemiplegia or hemiparesis as well. A few examples include:

  • Injury during labor and delivery
  • Head trauma
  • Stroke
  • Hemorrhage
  • Brain tumor
  • Hereditary conditions
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Meningitis, encephalitis and other infections.

It is important to realize that unilateral Cerebral Palsy is not a progressive condition – the underlying condition does not get worse over time. However, some symptoms may undergo changes depending on the child’s development, environment and therapy.

At the same time, there is no known cure for unilateral Cerebral Palsy. There are, however, treatments that can help children with the condition reach their full potential.

Differences Between Hemiplegia and Hemiparesis
Hemiplegia and hemiparesis are similar conditions related to unilateral Cerebral Palsy. They both involve impairment of half of the body. The main difference is in the degree of impairment.

Hemiplegia is paralysis of one half of the body – either the left side or the right side, depending on where the brain damage occurred. Hemiparesis involves weakness that is less extensive than paralysis on either the left half or the right half of the body.

Treatment of ADCP
While the brain damage that causes unilateral Cerebral Palsy cannot be reversed using current medical techniques, there are treatments that can help a child cope with the condition and live a better life.

Some potential treatments for unilateral Cerebral Palsy include:

Physical therapy, including stretching, strengthening and the use of braces
Occupational therapy to help the child perform the tasks of daily living
Speech therapy
Behavioral therapy and counseling

Since every case of unilateral Cerebral Palsy is unique – as is every patient, the particular course of treatment will vary. The degree of success of any particular treatment also depends to a large degree on the individual characteristics of the condition and the child.

Other Common Types of Cerebral Palsy
Unilateral Cerebral Palsy is but one of many forms of Cerebral Palsy. Other common types of the condition include:

  • Pyramidal or spastic Cerebral Palsy
    • Spastic diplegia/diparesis
    • Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis
  • Extrapyramidal or non-spastic Cerebral Palsy
    • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
    • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
    • Dystonic Cerebral Palsy
    • Chorea
    • Choreoathetoid
    • Dystonia
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy
  • Athetoid Cerebral Palsy (Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy)
Free Help for Parents of Children With Unilateral Cerebral Palsy
If your child has unilateral Cerebral Palsy (including hemiplegia or hemiparesis) or another form of Cerebral Palsy, it’s important to know that you are not alone. There are resources available to help you and your child get the most out of life.

MyChild™ offers free case evaluations and answers to your questions about your child’s unilateral CP. Fill out our online contact form now for confidential and caring assistance.

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