Cerebral Palsy

  • Medical Author: Norberto Alvarez, MD
  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What is dyskinetic cerebral palsy?

In the dyskinetic form of cerebral palsy the predominant feature is the presence of involuntary abnormal movements in the arms, legs, face, and trunk.

What is ataxic cerebral palsy?

Ataxic CP is a rare form of CP. It is a dyskinetic form of CP; that is, abnormal movements are present. In these children there is a marked loss of orderly muscular coordination so that movements are performed with abnormal force, rhythm, and accuracy. The fine motor coordination is much affected, as well as the gait.

What is dystonic cerebral palsy?

Dystonic CP is characterized by predominance of slow movements with muscle rigidity and persistent abnormal postures that relax after seconds or minutes. The frequency of these abnormal involuntary movements is less than in the choreoathetotic from. Usually the muscle tone is increased.

What is choreoathetoid cerebral palsy?

Choreoathetoid (sometimes referred as athetoid) cerebral palsy is associated with abnormal, uncontrollable, writhing movements of the arms and/or legs. Different from spastic cerebral palsy, persons with choreoathetoid cerebral palsy have variable muscle tone often with decreased muscle tone (hypotonia). Contractures of extremities are less common. The abnormal movements are activated by stress, as well as by normal emotional reactions such as laughing. Any attempt to do voluntary movements, for example extending the arm in an attempt to reach an object might result in many involuntary movements in arms, legs, trunk, and even the face. There are different types of abnormal movements. Two of the most common are choreoathetotic movement disorder with rapid, irregular, unpredictable contractions of individual or small muscles groups and dystonia with a persistent but not permanent, abnormal posture of some body parts (arms, legs, trunk) due to abnormal muscle contractions. The dystonic disorder also affects the muscles for facial expression, swallowing, deglutition, and speech, resulting in severe functional deficiencies.

These movements can be quite debilitating and greatly limit the child's ability to perform many motor tasks. Furthermore, the movements are akin to constant exercise, thereby causing the affected child to metabolize a huge number of calories. Choreoathetoid cerebral palsy is often associated with damage to specialized brain structures that are involved in movement control -- the basal ganglia. Like spastic cerebral palsy, the degree of symptom severity often varies, from mild to severely affected.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2015

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