Athetoid Cerebral Palsy or Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy is the type of Cerebral Palsy associated with damage to the basal ganglia located in the mid brain region. Basal ganglia are structures linked to the base of the brain and involve the coordination of movement. Damage occurs during brain development and this leads to involuntary movements of the body. This makes up around 15% of Cerebral Palsy diagnoses.
What causes it?
As mentioned above, the fundamental cause of Athetoid cerebral palsy is damage to the basal ganglia or in the cerebellum during the brain’s development stages. Once the damage is done, this affects the ability of the child to move any body part voluntarily.
Three ways this brain damage can occur are:
- Genetics – Before birth, some brains do not develop properly due to genetic mutations. This can be because of fetal development or it can be inherited.
- Birth Injuries – Oxygen deprivation during labour or delivery.
- Maternal complications – Infections (such as meningitis) can pass through the placental barrier and pre-existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure can affect growth.
What are the effects?
Involuntary movements and tremors are the most common effects of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy but the effects are also dependant on where and how much damage is done in the brain. Therefore every child’s symptoms will be different. If the basal ganglia is damaged then the child is more likely to have problems with lower motor function development and involuntary movements. Whereas, if the cerebellum is damaged then the child will find balance and coordination challenging.
There a multiple types of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy. The symptoms vary for each type and they are as follows:
- Dystonia – Slow, rotational movement of torso, arm and leg.
- Chorea – Sudden involuntary movements especially fingers and toes.
- Athetosis – Sluggish and writhing movements mainly in the fingers and face.
- Choreoathetoid – This is a combination of Chorea and Athetosis.
- Ataxia – Loss of balance and coordination.
- Rigidity – High muscle tone due to hypertonia causes restricted movement
- Dyskinesia – This is a general term describing involuntary movements.
Athetoid Cerebral Palsy can also cause co-occurring disorders such as autism and epilepsy.
What remedies are available?
Currently, there is no cure for Athetoid Cerebral Palsy but there are physical, speech and occupational therapies along with medications that enable a child to be as independent as possible and to try and live a normal life.
Physical treatment allows a child to strengthen and this helps to improve hypotonia. This type of treatment can also contribute to improvement of sensory impairment, posture and the overall mobility of the child.
Occupational Therapy is used to try and make everyday tasks easier such as gripping and writing.
Speech Therapy helps to overcome any problems a child may have with eating or breathing properly.
Medications can be helpful in preventing seizures.
Whilst there is no cure the above demonstrates that there are remedies available to try and make life easier.