There are many different types of cerebral palsy. In about one out of every six cases of CP, the patient has unwanted movement and spasms of the muscles. This is called dystonic cerebral palsy. It can be difficult, sometimes impossible, to control movements. In some cases, it is also painful. This occurs because the signals that are going to the patient’s brain are not correct. Dystonic cerebral palsy often happens in patients who also have irregular (high or low) muscle tone.
What Are the Causes?
The most common cause of this type of cerebral palsy is damage to the basal ganglia. This is the portion of the brain that is responsible for moving the muscles. Whenever there is any type of damage or impairment to the brain or the development of the brain, it can lead to a number of different issues. When damage occurs in the basal ganglia, it causes issues with movement. Some of the risk factors include loss of oxygen during birth, problems with the placenta, premature birth, and low birth weight. Damage to the brain after birth can also lead to cerebral palsy. Issues with the mother can also contribute to the risks of dystonic cerebral palsy, including viral diseases and bacterial infections.
Even though the infant may be exposed to one or more of these factors, it does not mean that he or she will develop dystonic cerebral palsy. It simply means that the risk is higher.
Some complications that can develop over time in patients who have the condition include contracture of the muscles, joint problems, nutritional problems (since swallowing and feeing can be impaired), depression, osteoarthritis, and epilepsy.
The symptoms of dystonic cerebral palsy can vary greatly from one patient to another. Some children who have the condition may feel restless. The muscle spasms can cause a number of different types of conditions including repetitive movements, twisting, and abnormal postures. The movements can be fast and jerking or they can be slower. Some patients may manifest both types of movement. Some children may have trouble sitting upright and holding themselves in that position. Many have trouble walking.
In some patients, it can be difficult to control the movements of the face. This includes the throat, jaw, lips, and tongue. Naturally, this can affect a person’s speech patterns and facial expressions. They may also have trouble eating and drinking, and may drool.
The patients tend to have more difficulty controlling their movements when they are excited or under stress. Finding ways to relax can help some patient reduce their symptoms. The uncontrolled movements tend to vanish when the patient is asleep.
What Treatments Are Available?
Once the doctors make a determination and diagnosis of dystonic cerebral palsy, they will come up with a number of different types of treatment options and programs that can help the child to live a better life. They will have the child undergo a number of assessment tests to determine the severity of their condition, which will let them know the best types of therapy to use for the child. Some of the most common types of therapy include physical therapy, speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy.
Medication is another potential solution for some patients. It can help the patient to deal with pain, and to manage the spasms better. In the event the patient has still muscles, some medications can help to relax them. Parents and patients should talk with the doctors about all of the various types of treatment and therapy they can utilize when trying to deal with the condition.