Athetoid Cerebral Palsy - Medical Negligence Solicitors
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Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
A form of athetonia (a physical disorder caused by the central nervous system), athetoid cerebral palsy (CP), is characterized by slow, involuntary, writhing movements of the muscles. Other traits may include mixed muscle tone, or muscle tone that is too low or too high. The main cause of athetoid CP is damage that occurs in the midbrain area, more specifically in the basal ganglia. Sometimes referred to as “dyskenetic” cerebral palsy, athetonia CP makes up about twenty five percent of all CP cases. If you think that your child's condition has arisen as a result of medical negligence, contact our athetoid cerebral palsy solicitors for advice at no cost.
The slow, involuntary, writhing motions associated with athetoid cerebral palsy generally affect the arms, legs, feet or hands. In some individuals, the muscles of the face and/or tongue may be affected, leading to excessive drooling and facial grimacing. The involuntary movements and fluctuations in muscle tone affect the entire body in some cases. These movements often become worse during periods of emotional stress and frequently completely disappear when the individual is asleep.
Numerous conditions arise in individuals who have been diagnosed with athetoid cerebral palsy. These issues are usually due to muscle tone problems, more specifically the alternation of muscles becoming very tense, then very floppy. The uncontrollable movements may be large or small, repetitive, irregular, random, jerky or rapid. Athetoid CP can also make a person appear to be in a constant state of motion or very restless. As previously stated, the only time the person will appear still is when they are in a completely relaxed state or sleeping.
Individuals with athetoid cerebral palsy often find it very strenuous to hold a constant posture, due to muscle fluctuations. Children diagnosed with this form of CP often have difficulty sitting upright, holding their bodies still and walking. These problems can delay normal childhood development, as well as keep the child from being able to control his or her personal mobility.
Since athetoid cerebral palsy often causes patients to have a great deal of involuntary facial movement, speech may be affected. This side effect is known as “dysarthia”. Athetoid CP affects speech because the muscles responsible for the vocal chords, breathing and tongue are uncontrollable. These issues may also affect chewing and eating as well.
Similarly, individuals with athetoid CP may find it very difficult to hold onto everyday objects such as, writing instruments, grooming tools and eating utensils. Athetoid CP requires the patient to work very hard to move their hand to a particular location and hold on to something. It takes a great deal of concentration to carry out this process. Simple tasks most people take for granted, such as tying a shoelace or scratching an itch, are nearly impossible. This is further compounded by the larger, involuntary movements experienced by the entire body.
Athetoid cerebral palsy can be treated in a variety of ways, depending on the exact symptoms and the areas of the body that are affected. As is the case with other forms of CP, it is very important physical therapy begin as soon as possible after diagnosis. Regular exercise to increase overall range of motion helps keep muscles from becoming atrophied, weak and extremely stiff. This assists with reduction of contracture as well. Individuals suffering with dysarthia may find speech therapy improves communication and eating skills, especially swallowing. Speech therapy can also teach individuals how to use specialized communication devices, such as computers with voice synthesizers. It is always recommended that a team of CP specialists be consulted. These professionals have in-depth knowledge of the condition and can design the best possible course of treatment for each individual case.
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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