Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

This type of cerebral palsy occurs when muscle tone is mixed and is either too high or too low and affects less than 20% of children with cerebral palsy. It can occur mixed with other types of cerebral palsy and is most often mixed with spastic movements. This offset muscle tone leads to difficulty with control and coordination of movement and may be most obvious when a child attempts an upright steady position for walking. The dysfunction often increases during periods of emotional stress and disappears during sleep.

Athetoid cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the cerebellum or basal ganglia areas of the brain which are responsible for processing the signals that enable smooth, coordinated movements as well as maintaining body posture. Damage to these areas may cause a child to develop involuntary, purposeless movements, especially in the face, arms and trunk. These involuntary movements often interfere with speaking, feeding, reaching, grasping, and other skills requiring coordinated movements and may result in involuntary grimacing and tongue thrusting which may lead to swallowing problems, drooling and slurred speech, a condition known as dysarthria.

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