What is Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, which is also known by the name of dyskinetic cerebral palsy, is a form of a movement disorder in children as a result of some sort of damage to the brain in the developing stage. Athetoid Cerebral Palsy is characterized by abnormal involuntary movements of various parts of the body along with excessive stiffness alternating with floppiness of the muscles of the body, a condition called as hypertonia and hypotonia.
The inability of the child to regulate normal muscle tone is what precisely results in the symptoms of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. A child with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy will have problems with movements of the upper and lower extremities. This makes it harder for such children to grip and grasp objects.
As of now, there is no cure for Athetoid Cerebral Palsy but with the help of speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and certain medications and even surgery may allow the affected child to live as normal and independent life as possible.
These therapies also slow down the progression of the disease and helps in preventing any future complications that may arise as a result of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
What is the Classification of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
There are various types of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy with their own distinct features. These types of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy are:
Dystonia: This type of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy is characterized by involuntary slow rotational movement of the arm or leg.
Chorea: This is characterized by sudden onset involuntary movements of the fingers and toes.
Athetosis: This form of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy is characterized by sluggish movements of the fingers and face.
Ataxia: This is perhaps the most common type of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy in which there is complete or partial loss of balance and coordination.
Dyskinesia: This is also one of the common forms of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy and is characterized by involuntary movements of the body.
What Causes Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
The root cause of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy is an injury to the brain at the time when it is in the developing stage in a child. The form of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy which a child will have depends on which part the brain is injured or damaged.
Athetoid Cerebral Palsy normally is caused when the basal ganglia or the cerebellum gets damaged. The function of the basal ganglia is to facilitate coordination and balance and promote voluntary movement in the body.
Thus a damage to the basal ganglia results in problems with balance and coordination and problems with voluntary movements something which is classic for a child with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
The cerebellum also facilitates coordination and movements in the body and damage to the cerebellum again results in problems with coordination and involuntary movements seen in Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
Damage to these parts of the brain resulting in Athetoid Cerebral Palsy can also be caused by certain infections like meningitis, and trauma or injury to the brain, lack of adequate oxygen supply to the brain in its developing stages.
What Are The Symptoms Of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
The symptoms of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy are quite variable and depend on the severity of the disease condition and the precise location where the movement disorder occurs.
Hypertonia alternating with hypotonia is perhaps the main symptoms of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. This variation in muscle tone tends to occur almost on a daily basis in a child with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. When the child will have hypertonia then there will be jerky movements and stiffness and hypotonia will cause floppiness of the muscles resulting in issues such as problems with sitting up.
Some of the common symptoms associated with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy are:
- Involuntary movements, especially of the extremities
- Poor posture
- Problems with balance and coordination
- Consistent drooling
The primary presenting feature of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy depends on which part of the brain is affected whether it is the basal ganglia, the cerebellum, or both. Problems with balance and coordination is caused mainly when both the basal ganglia and the cerebellum get damaged resulting in Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
Treatment For Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
As of now, there is no cure for Athetoid Cerebral Palsy but with physical, speech, and occupational therapy in combination with certain medications can make a child with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy as independent and normal as possible.
The physical therapist will formulate a treatment plan best suited for the child and will include strengthening exercises with resistance bands and machines to improve hypotonia. Physical therapy also helps in improving any sensory impairment that a child may have as a result of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. The main focus of physical therapy is to improve mobility in the child and also teach exercises which will help overcome the problem of persistent drooling which is common in children with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. Physical therapy also helps in improving the posture of the child a great deal as children tend to have problems sitting up as a result of muscle flaccidness due to Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
The function of Occupational Therapy is to make the child as independent as possible. This will be done by way of playing and learning. This will help in making everyday tasks like gripping, grasping, writing much easier for the child with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
Children with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy may also have a problem with eating and breathing normally. Speech Therapy is of immense help in overcoming this problem. Speech therapy also helps in increasing the vocabulary of the child, teach the child how to speak and express his or her thoughts with much ease. Speech therapy plays an extremely vital role in making a child with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy independent allowing the child to carry out daily activities with minimal to no discomfort.
Medications are also of great help in treatment of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. The medications are usually given for prevention of seizures which are quite prevalent in children with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. Over the counter reflux medications can also be used for treating any acid reflux symptoms which may be caused due to weak gastroesophageal muscles as a result of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
Children with ADHD are prescribed medication like Ritalin for improved focus. Surgery is basically done for children with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy who have joint dislocations or deformities as a result of this condition. These deformities or dislocations may occur as a result of hypertonia caused due to Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.
- KidsHealth. (2021). Cerebral Palsy. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cerebral-palsy.html
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2021). Cerebral Palsy. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/cerebral-palsy/
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2021). Cerebral Palsy: Hope Through Research. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Cerebral-Palsy-Hope-Through-Research
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Cerebral Palsy. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cerebral-palsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20353999