Athetoid cerebral palsy, sometimes called dyskinetic cerebral palsy or ADCP, occurs when there are lesions on the basal ganglia that appear during the development of the brain. ADCP will generally occur within the first year and a half after birth.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Those who have the condition tend to experience involuntary movements of the arms, hands, and legs. In some cases, the movements are slow. Other times, they can manifest as rapid movements that are repetitive and random. Patients may also have involuntary facial movements and drooling occur. The involuntary movements tend to be exacerbated during times when the patient is under a great amount of emotional stress, or when the patient is excited about something. When the patient is distracted, or sleeping, the symptoms disappear.
Naturally, these movements can make dealing with many everyday tasks in life, such as brushing their teeth, putting on makeup, and even sitting still difficult and in some cases impossible. Some patients who have the disorder may also have trouble speaking, and hearing and vision loss can occur as well. Swallowing can be impaired, and this can affect the sufferer’s ability to eat and drink. The disorder causes a mixed muscle tone in the body. This means that the tone will vary between being too loose and too rigid, causing the spastic movements.
While the patient may suffer from a variety of movement issues, this type of disorder does not often affect the mental acuity or ability of the patient. They often have normal, or even greater than normal, intelligence.
What Are the Causes?
All forms of cerebral palsy are caused by some type of damage or malformation in the brain. Athetoid cerebral palsy is associated with issues to the extrapyramidal tracts in the basal ganglia or to the cerebellum. Lesions can occur from hypoxic ischemic brain injury or bilirubin encephalopathy.
As mentioned, the condition usually occurs before birth or up to 18 months after. In the case of an unborn baby, the brain damage can occur for a number of different reasons. An infection to the fetus or to the mother could cause brain damage, as they cause inflammation. The inflammation is what can lead to cerebral palsy in the baby.
Another potential cause for the athetoid cerebral palsy is a fetal stroke. This leads to bleeding in the baby’s brain, which can cause the condition. A fetal stroke could occur in the event that the placenta develops blood clots, which can cause issues with the fetus’s circulation. Other circulation issues or having abnormal brain blood vessels could lead to fetal stroke as well. If the mother suffers from high blood pressure, then the baby is also at an increased risk of stroke. On the other hand, blood pressure that is too low can cause problems too. When pregnant, women should always monitor their blood pressure to make sure it is in a healthy range.
Babies that have severe jaundice could also be at a higher risk for developing athetoid cerebral palsy. While mild cases may not require any treatment, severe jaundice must be treated and must be monitored to determine whether it has caused brain damage.
What Treatments Are Available?
A number of different types of treatment are available for those who are suffering from athetoid cerebral palsy. One of the first types of treatment the doctors are likely to consider is physical therapy, just as it is with other types of cerebral palsy. Physical therapy helps to improve the range or motion, mobility, and functional ability in the patient. In addition to physical therapy, speech therapy may be essential for those who have trouble speaking and swallowing properly. Treatment with certain medications can help to ease some of the symptoms for the patients, and could be a solution for some sufferers.
Athetoid cerebral palsy is a terrible condition, but research is being done in the field to help patients who are dealing with the disorder. It is important that patients and their families find qualified medical professionals who can help them with understanding the condition and getting the right treatment.