You may hear non-spastic cerebral palsy referred to as extra pyramidal, the medical name that it is sometimes known by. Either way, it refers to a type of cerebral palsy characterized by a weakened and unbalanced musculature in addition to movements that are sudden and/or jerky. The muscles of someone suffering from non-spastic cerebral palsy will usually be either floppy, as if they are practically nonexistent, or stiff, like they are constantly being flexed. Non-spastic cerebral palsy is an umbrella term that accounts for roughly 20% of all cases of cerebral palsy in the U.S.
Non-Spastic Cerebral Palsy Causes
The pyramidal tract plays a vital role in the body’s central nervous system. It sends motor impulses to the rest of the body through fibers. These impulses are responsible for helping the body manage its voluntary actions. If a brain injury happens inside this tract, spastic cerebral palsy is often the result. If it happens outside the tract, though, non-spastic cerebral palsy can transpire. Due to the location of the injury, mental deficiencies are typically not an issue when it comes to non-spastic cerebral palsy.
Non-Spastic Cerebral Palsy Types
There are three types of non-spastic cerebral palsy. The first is called dyskinetic cerebral palsy and is identifiable by an infant’s abnormal variation in muscle tone. It will either be stiff and hard or limp and loose. Someone with dyskinetic cerebral palsy will also display abnormal movements. They may suddenly exhibit rapid jerking motions and the next moment, start moving extremely slowly. These movements usually happen in the limbs, head and neck, but the torso may also be affected on some children.
Athetoid cerebral palsy is a type of dyskinetic. However, the observable fluctuations in muscle tone will continue, even when the person is sleeping. Problems controlling facial muscles also make it difficult for people with athetoid cerebral palsy to eat and drink. They often drool and have trouble speaking.
The most uncommon form of non-spastic cerebral palsy is known as ataxic, affecting only about 5% of those with this type of disability. With this version, the entire body will move abnormally and without any control from the person. Those affected may lack balance and have problems carrying out precise movements. While we all favor one of our hands over the other, people with ataxic will do so while their other handshakes and jerks.
Treating Non-Spastic Cerebral Palsy
People living with non-spastic cerebral palsy should seek out medical attention as soon as they can. Early detection can make a big difference where any form of cerebral palsy is involved.
After doing an assessment of the patient and looking over their medical history, most physicians will initiate a regimen of physical therapy. Children with this disability may improve simply by working on their precise motor skills, exercising their muscles and practicing balancing while they stand or walk.
Occupational therapy may also help patients with necessary living skills for everyday life. Therapists can assist with dressing, eating, communicating with others and enjoying normal activities. Medication can also assist with patients who might drool, shake or suffer from painful muscles.
Outlook for Non-Spastic Cerebral Palsy
While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, the right medication paired with regular therapy will give those afflicted with non-spastic cerebral palsy a fairly bright outlook. Meeting these conditions, most can go on to flourish and enjoy a fulfilling life. However, keep in mind that each injury and infant is different.
Non-spastic cerebral palsy is a relatively common form of the disability that results from an injury outside the pyramidal tract. While it can cause a range of symptoms, with correct treatment, they do not have to become impossible challenges to overcome.