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Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Updated on October 26, 2015

Athetoid cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is caused from damage to the brain of an infant while being carried in the mother's womb, when being delivered, or the immediate after care associated with the baby. Sometimes it can happen at a later period of life, but the vast majority of cerebral palsy cases are accidents related to birth, as is athetoid cerebral palsy.

I've always had to explain to people - about my son who has cerebral palsy - that it's not a disease, but a disorder, or essentially - some type of accident connected to the birthing process.

This is why the damage done to the brain doesn't get progressively worse like a disease would. What can get worse is the symptoms related to the disorder; from muscle atrophy, among other things.

The particular part of the brain which gets damaged and displays the symptoms of athetoid cerebral palsy is the mid-brain region, or otherwise called the 'basal ganglia.'

Approximately 25 percent of all people with cerebral palsy are afflicted with athetoid cerebral palsy, which is also known as dyskenetic cerebral palsy.

Symptoms of athetoid cerebral palsy

The primary symptoms of athetoid cerebral palsy affect the hands, feet, arms, or legs; in many cases all of them. Other parts of the body which can be afflicted are facial muscles and the tongue.

Facial muscles are difficult because it can appear the person is always frowning or grimacing. Also the unpleasant side effects of drooling is a hard element to deal with. 

Athetoid cerebral palsy

Involuntary muscle movement

When looking at the symptoms of athetoid cerebral palsy, thing of uncontrollable and involuntary muscles in many parts of the body and it gives you an idea of what many people have to struggle with on a moment-by-moment and daily basis. 

Stress is a major factor in athetoid cerebral palsy

When you consider the involuntary muscle reactions connected to athetoid cerebral palsy, you can picture what a strong factor stress plays in the overall picture.

The more stressful a person with the disorder is, the more the muscles will involuntarily respond to that stress, making it even worse than it is.

But stress or no stress, about the only time a person can completely be free of the uncontrollable muscle reactions is when they sleep. 

Athetoid cerebral palsy and social situations

One strong challenge for anyone with cerebral palsy, which is even more challenging for those with athetoid cerbral palsy, is interacting or even being in social situations.

This is especially true with the symptoms related to the face, which makes it difficult to interact with people, or even have the courage to show up.

People who engage people with athetoid cerebral palsy will think that they are completely on edge and unable to stop moving. They will interpret the symptoms of an endless state of restlessness, and if they don't know what's happening, it makes it a difficult situation.

This isn't to discourage anyone, I'm only showing the very real challenged people with athetoid cerebral palsy struggle through every day. 

Speech challenges from athetoid cerebral palsy

Another major challenge for those suffering from athetoid cerebral palsy in related to speech. There is no one that has these symptoms that doesn't struggle from one degree or another with it. This is called dysarthia.

The speech problems are a direct consequence of the inability for a person with the disorder to control their tongue. Even the vocal chords and breathing can be a major battle that has to continually be fought to have some control over. Eating can also be very hard for them. 

Success with athetoid cerebral palsy requires strong discipline

Even the simple holding of any object like a eating utensil can be a major challenge for those with athetoid cerebral palsy, and it requires an extraordinary amount of concentration and discipline to successfully perform these tasks. 

Athetoid cerebral palsy treatment

Treatments for athetoid cerebral palsy are primarily determined by the specific symptoms experienced from the disorder.

Some may require a strong dose of speech therapy for dysarthia, which will also help in eating and swallowing food, along with the ability to communicate better.

Children can also be taught to use other tools like voice synthesizers as an alternative means of communication.

Physical therapy plays a major role, and daily exercise related to range of motion is a key to keeping the from being atrophied or weakening too much. 

You can live with athetoid cerebral palsy

Any type of cerebral palsy can be lived with, and athetoid cerebral palsy is no different.

There are just different types of challenges to meet, and those setting things up best for themselves or their child will go a long way toward living the best live they can under the circumstances.

As always, being the parent of a child with cerebral palsy, I encourage any parent to take some time off and have a day out, away from the home and continual care.

Not only will you rejuvenate yourself, but your child will appreciate it, as the care relationship can become stressful if they aren't given some personal room to grow away from mom or dad. 


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      heather how old is you child+at what age did she talk?

    • profile image

      Cerebral palsy therapist 

      7 years ago

      Thank you very much, I hope they can find good treatment for those patients.

    • hebaeraky profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for your valuable post, It is really helpful. I have covered another aspects cerebral palsy at my post:

      It will be nice from you if you could give me your opinion.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      you stated that ALL people with this type of cp have speech problems. my daughter,emma,has no problem with her speech. she does have problems with food due to a strong gag reflex though.


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