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Cerebral palsy (CP) is a broad term that covers conditions that affect muscle coordination and bodily movements. While there is no one reason for Ataxic cerebral palsy to develop, there are several risk factors that can be attributed to the condition. CP is caused by a form of brain damage that can happen as a result of medical negligence during pregnancy or the labour and delivery process or shortly after birth. While there are several different types of CP, they are generally classified by the particular part of the brain that is affected. Ataxic cerebral palsy is the least common form of the condition, affecting just five to ten percent of all cases. If you think that your child's condition has arisen as a result of medical negligence, contact our ataxic cerebral palsy solicitors for advice at no cost.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxic cerebral palsy is a result of brain damage in the cerebellum or the base of the brain. The cerebellum is the main control centre for coordination and balance and is in charge of organizing all of the actions of different muscle groups. Thus, ataxic CP directly affects movement and coordination. This form of the condition typically affects the trunk of the body, as well as all four limbs. Ataxic CP is further characterized by a hypotonic appearance, meaning the body has poor or low muscle tone.
Individuals can be affected by ataxic cerebral palsy in a variety of ways. Some of the most common symptoms of ataxic CP include difficulty walking or a wide gait. Since balance is greatly affected, affected individuals tend to walk with their feet spaced very far apart. People with ataxic CP usually appear to be quite shaky and unsteady on their feet due mostly to poor muscle tone, causing the body to continually struggle to balance itself.
Perhaps the most noticeable trait of individuals with ataxic CP is tremors. These tremors become very noticeable when the person tries to use fine motor skills, such as buttoning a shirt, writing, eating or needing to make a fast movement. The tremors tend to become worse when voluntary movements are attempted. For example, when a person with ataxic CP reaches for an object, such as a glass of water, the hand and arm will start to shake uncontrollably. The closer the outreached hand comes to the object, the more severe the tremors. This usually results in the task being completed in a very long period of time, or not at all.
While tremors associated with ataxic CP cannot be cured, there are many different treatments for cerebral palsy overall, which help to reduce the effects. Certain drugs, such as benzodiazepine and primidone, can help relieve some of the symptoms, but are not recommended for long term use. Botox has been gaining a great deal of attention in the world of CP, and has been found to be quite effective in treating hand, arm, head and voice tremors.
Another new technique showing promise in the treatment of tremors in individuals suffering with ataxic CP is cooling. Cooling involves wrapping the forearm, but not the hand or wrist, with a device known as a “cryomanchet” that uses circulating fluid. Once cooled, the individual will have relief from the tremors for up to thirty minutes. This technique is especially useful before tackling normal daily tasks, such as eating a meal, signing documents or getting dressed. The cooling treatment has given ataxic CP patients a bit of freedom from their dependency on caretakers.
Ataxic CP can be a difficult condition that is challenging to manage. It may involve trials of several different treatment methods in order to determine the most effective treatment for each individual case. A team of health care professionals should be consulted to assess the patient, as well as to help design a treatment plan best suited for their specific needs.
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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here