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A to Z: Diplegia

May also be called: Spastic Diplegia; Infantile Diplegia

Diplegia (dy-PLEE-juh) is a form of paralysis that affects similar body parts on both sides of the body, such as both legs or both arms.

More to Know

Diplegia is a condition that causes stiffness, weakness, or lack of mobility in muscle groups on both sides of the body. This usually involves the legs, but in some people the arms and face also might be affected.

Diplegia is most often associated with cerebral palsy (CP), a neurological disorder that affects body movements and muscle coordination, although some cases have other causes, such as a traumatic injury or infection.

Spastic diplegia is the most common form of CP. People with this condition usually have difficulty walking and may require a walker or leg braces. Spastic diplegia that affects the upper body can limit someone's ability to move their arms, hands, and fingers and can make grasping objects difficult. There is no cure for spastic diplegia, but it doesn't get worse over time. Treatment typically involves therapy, medication, surgery, or braces to help improve muscle function.

Diplegia is different from paraplegia, which is paralysis of the legs only; quadriplegia, which is paralysis of all four limbs; and hemiplegia, which is paralysis on one side of the body.

Keep in Mind

Although spastic diplegia can make walking and other motions difficult, kids with this condition usually have normal intelligence and language skills. With the right treatment and therapy, many kids with spastic diplegia can have a quality of life similar to other children.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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