Dyskinetic cerebral palsy, sometimes called athetoid cerebral palsy, dystonic, or choreathetoid CP, happens when there is damage to the basal ganglia in the brain. This area of the brain is responsible for a number of different activities in the body including eye movement, muscle movements, emotion, cognition, and procedural learning. If there is damage, dyskinetic CP can occur. The exact symptoms and ailments that a patient may have will differ based on the severity of the condition. There are two forms of non-spastic CP that fall under this category – athetoid and dystonic.
What Are the Symptoms?
Those who suffer from dyskinetic cerebral palsy will have muscle tone that changes or fluctuates from being loose to being tight. In some patients, uncontrolled movement may occur. This can be rapid or slow involuntary movements. The movements can affect the arms, legs, feet, hands, face, and neck. In some cases, they can affect the trunk of the body as well. The severity of the condition will vary between patients. Some may have only minor problems, while others will have a number of issues and disabilities.
Those who have athetoid CP often have relaxed muscles during sleep with some involuntary movements or writhing. They may have trouble speaking, drinking, eating, and swallowing. The involuntary muscle movements can make the person appear as though he or she is constantly moving. They may have involuntary movement of the lips and tongue, which can make things such as eating, drinking, speaking, and swallowing extremely difficult. The patients often have trouble holding writing implements, utensils, and other items in their hands. Drooling can occur as well because of the uncontrolled movement of the facial muscles. Stress can increase the involuntary movements, which only tend to disappear entirely when they’ve gone to sleep.
Patients who have dystonic CP may find that their body and neck remain in a stiff position. They may suffer from prolonged repetitive movements and movements that alternate from being very rapid to very slow. Many patients also feel pain when they are moving their muscles. The involuntary movements tend to be greater whenever the patient is upset, excited, or tired. Any part of the body could be affected by dystonic CP. Some may show signs of the condition through their entire body, which is known as general dystonia. Others may only have symptoms in one area. This is called focal dystonia. Others may have symptoms on only one side of their body, or only in the muscles of their neck.
Diagnosing Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
Doctors use a number of different assessment tools as a means to test for the condition and to test the developmental delays and motor functions of the patients. They often use the gross motor functioning classification system to classify their patients and to help them determine the best course of treatment. The doctors will also use MRIs, (magnetic resonance imaging) to look at the basal ganglia and to help them measure the brain abnormalities.
What Treatment Options Are Available?
While there is no known cure for any type of cerebral palsy, there are some different types of therapy that can help to improve the quality of life for the patient. The therapies aim to help improve their living skills, cognitive skills, and motor skills. Some of the most common types of therapy include occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. The use of medications can help to reduce the involuntary movements in the patients.
The prognosis for the patient depends on the severity of the condition and the location of the lesions on the brain. Patients and their families should work with the doctors to help find the right treatment for their particular condition.