Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Ataxic Cerebral Palsy is the least common form of Cerebral Palsy. It accounts for less than 10 percent of diagnosed cases of CP. Unlike other forms of Cerebral Palsy, ataxic CP generally affects the patient’s entire body. Tremors, a wide gait, lack of coordination, problems with depth perception, and decreased muscle tone are among the hallmarks of ataxic Cerebral Palsy.

Symptoms of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Among the most common and most recognizable symptoms of ataxic Cerebral Palsy are:

  • Low muscle tone (hypotonia)
  • Tremors, particularly “intention tremors” that become more severe when focusing on a particular task such as reaching for something
  • Walking with feet spaced far apart (wide gait)
  • Problems with coordination
  • Impaired depth perception
  • Difficulty with precision in certain tasks
  • Problems with balance
  • Speech impairments
  • Difficulty swallowing, sucking and breathing
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Cardiac conditions

Patients with ataxic Cerebral Palsy do not necessary experience all of the symptoms listed above. There may also be other effects of the condition that are not listed here.

Causes of Ataxia
Like other forms of Cerebral Palsy, ataxic CP stems from damage to the brain. Ataxic Cerebral Palsy results from damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for coordination, balance and posture. The cerebellum acts like a switchboard for the nervous system, which means damage in that area can affect a large number of bodily functions.

Some potential causes of ataxic Cerebral Palsy include:

  • Complications during pregnancy, labor and delivery
  • Oxygen depravation
  • Infection, including meningitis
  • Viral infections in the mother during pregnancy
  • Head trauma
  • Fetal stroke
  • High blood pressure in the mother during pregnancy
Treatment of ADCP
As with all forms of Cerebral Palsy, there is no known cure for ataxic CP. In other words, there is currently no way to reverse the damage to the brain structure that causes CP. However, treatments can reduce the symptoms of ataxic Cerebral Palsy and improve the patient’s functioning and quality of life.

Potential treatments for patients with ataxic CP include:

Physical therapy
Occupational therapy
Speech therapy
Conductive therapy
Short-term use of drugs such as Botox, primidone and benzodiazepine to help control tremors
Application of a cooling device to the forearm to reduce intention tremors

Every case of ataxic Cerebral Palsy is unique. However, with a coordinated combination of treatments, many patients can gain improved mobility, function, self-sufficiency and quality of life.

Other Common Types of Cerebral Palsy
Ataxic 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 hemiplegia/hemiparesis
    • Spastic quadriplegia/quadriparesis
  • Extrapyramidal or non-spastic Cerebral Palsy
    • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
    • Dystonic Cerebral Palsy
    • Chorea
    • Choreoathetoid
    • Dystonia
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy
  • Athetoid Cerebral Palsy (Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy)
Free Help for Parents of Children With Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
If you are the parent of a child with ataxia or another type of Cerebral Palsy, you need to know that help is available to assist your child in reaching his or her full potential.

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

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