Spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy, or spastic hemiplegia, is a type of cerebral palsy that causes difficulty in controlling movements on one side of the body. This condition hinders the normal development of a person’s motor function, resulting in movement disorders such as muscle tightness, joint tightness, and jerky movements. As such, spastic hemiplegia patients have a reduced ability to perform simple tasks such as walking or picking up objects, which makes living a normal life more challenging. Additionally, they’re at risk of developing certain co-occurring conditions, such as epilepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Causes of Spastic Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy

Spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy is similar to other types of cerebral palsy in that it results from brain damage or dysfunction before, during or after birth. However, in this condition, the damage specifically occurs in the motor cortex.

Spastic hemiplegia may be congenital or acquired. The condition may be acquired in many different ways. For instance, a doctor didn’t take prompt and appropriate action following the detection of fetal distress. This could cause damage to the brain, which may, in turn, lead to spastic hemiplegia.

Premature birth is another factor that can increase the risk of spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy. It causes the infant to have underdeveloped organs that may contribute to hypoxic brain injury, a condition that results from inadequate oxygen supply to the brain. Other possible causes of acquired spastic hemiplegia include:

  • Placenta problems
  • Untreated maternal infections
  • Untreated infant infections
  • Medical conditions such as jaundice
  • Improper use of birthing tools
  • Failure of doctors to promptly order a C-section

Symptoms of Spastic Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy

Typically, spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy symptoms don’t present themselves until a baby starts missing developmental milestones. Therefore, they could be difficult to identify during the first few years of a child’s life. During toddlerhood, many normal children have the tendency to exhibit some of the symptoms of spastic hemiplegia, such as jerky movements. A complete cerebral palsy diagnosis may take up to five years to achieve.

Spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy symptoms may differ from one child to another. They may also vary significantly in severity. For example, some children with the condition are able to walk, while others need to rely on assistive devices such as crutches and wheelchairs. Also, some may experience more muscle pain and weakness than others. For people with spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy, arm position may be more elevated as compensation for instability while walking, which is one of the tell-tale signs of the condition.

Other common spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy symptoms include:

  • Delays in reaching developmental milestones
  • Problems with fine motor skills that interfere with daily activities
  • Difficulty walking and balancing
  • Failure to properly position limbs while walking
  • Favoring one hand over the other
  • Clenching one hand into a fist
  • Weakness on one side of the body
  • Stiff muscles on one side of the body
  • Jerky muscles
  • Contractures
  • Poor seating positions

The good news for spastic hemiplegia patients and their families is that the condition isn’t progressive. This means the disorder itself won’t get worse over time.

Treatment for Spastic Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy

Similar to other forms of cerebral palsy, spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy is a lifelong disorder that can’t be cured. However, there are many treatment methods that can help children with the condition improve their ability to perform their daily tasks and live normal, healthy lives. These treatment options include:

  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Strength training
  • Sensory integration
  • Nutritional guidance
  • Medications
  • Surgery
  • Splinting and casting
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Botulinum toxin injections

Physical therapy is the most widely used treatment method for all types of cerebral palsy. It involves an array of exercises and activities that can help patients improve their overall motor function and become more independent. Some examples of such exercises include stretching, flexibility, and range-of-motion exercises.

Bear in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to treating spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Medical professionals will evaluate the individual needs of each patient to formulate the most appropriate and effective treatment plan. Sometimes, a treatment plan may consist of more than one treatment method and require the involvement of a team of medical experts, such as therapists, pediatricians, dietitians, and special education teachers.

Although it isn’t progressive in nature, spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy may take a heavy emotional and financial toll on children with the condition and their families. In many cases, it could have been avoided. If you think that your child or loved one may have acquired spastic hemiplegia because of medical malpractice, you may be legally entitled to seek compensation from the negligent party. The Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC have the necessary experience and legal and medical knowledge to help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to discuss your case.



Reviewed by:
Trish Fletcher, MS, BSN, CRNP, NNP-BC, ALNC
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner | Birth Injury Legal Nurse Consultant

Tricia is a dedicated, focused, Birth Injury Legal Nurse Consultant and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner with more than 25 years of experience. Her strong clinical and critical thinking skills, paired with expertise caring for neonates in a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), ensures meticulous medical records review. READ FULL BIO

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