Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy, also called dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy, is a less-common form of Cerebral Palsy. It accounts for roughly 1-in-10 cases of the condition. A combination of high muscle tone (hypertonia) and low muscle tone or “floppiness” (hypotonia) is the hallmark of athetoid Cerebral Palsy (ADCP).

Symptoms of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
Some of the most common and most recognizable symptoms of ADCP include:

  • Difficulty controlling movement hands, arms, legs and feet
  • Problems with walking and sitting
  • Uncontrolled movements may be slow and writhing, as well as quick, jerky and small
  • Movements may be random or repetitive
  • Difficulty controlling facial movements may make it difficult to eat, drink, speak, suck and swallow
  • Uncontrollable drooling
  • Involuntary facial expressions, including grimaces
  • Movements may increase in times of stress, excitement or emotional agitation
  • Movements may decrease or stop during sleep, distraction or relaxation
  • Muscle tone may change from day to day and even from hour to hour
  • Difficulty reaching and grasping
  • Uncontrollable squinting and eye movement
  • Hearing loss
Types of Athetoid CP
Diagnoses of athetoid Cerebral Palsy are broken into two subtypes:

  • Choreoathetoid Cerebral Palsy – This form of ADCP is characterized by uncontrollable movements primarily in the face and extremities (hands, feet, arms and legs).
  • Dystonic Cerebral Palsy – This form of ADCP is characterized by slow and strong muscle movements that affect a large part of the body.
Causes of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
ADCP results from damage to the brain, especially the parts of the brain that control muscle movement – specifically the basal ganglia and the cerebellum. Lesions on these areas of the brain may trigger symptoms of athetoid Cerebral Palsy.

Lack of oxygen to the brain, particularly during and immediately after childbirth, is a common cause of ADCP. Kernicterus (bilirubin encephalopathy) has also been linked to ADCP.

The condition stems from injury and malformation of certain areas of the brain before the cerebrum has completely developed.

Treatment of ADCP
As with other forms of Cerebral Palsy, there is no known cure for athetoid Cerebral Palsy. However, patients may benefit from treatments that can allow them to reach their full potential.

Treatments for athetoid CP may include:

Speech therapy
Occupational therapy
Physical therapy
Leg braces and other assistive devices
Medication to control or prevent involuntary muscle movement
Deep brain stimulation

A patient’s prognosis depends on many factors that are unique to the individual. However, with treatment, many ADCP patients are able to gain some degree of mobility, speech and self-sufficiency.

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
    • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
    • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
    • Dystonic Cerebral Palsy
    • Chorea
    • Choreoathetoid
    • Dystonia
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy
Free Help for Parents of Children With Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
If your child has ADCP 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 Athetoid CP. Fill out our online contact form now for confidential and caring assistance.

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