Athetoid cerebral palsy is a type of cerebral palsy that affects about ten percent of most cerebral palsy patients. Athetoid CP is characterized by very slow, uncoordinated movements throughout the body, but especially so in the hands, legs, arms, and feet. Face and tongue muscles can also be affected and may result into grimacing or drooling. When the tongue is affected, the result may be difficulty in speaking. Let's take a look at this condition and what treatment options are available.
Helping the person regain his or her center of gravity is the primary objective during treatment for athetoid CP. It takes great patience and perseverance on the part of therapists and care givers, and especially for parents as they try to cope and help their afflicted child. Reducing stress through stress-reducing activities, like yoga and martial arts have been found to improve muscle coordination. Constant encouragement for the person during the slow progress on the road to recovery works wonders in the treatment of cerebral palsy.
An athetoid cerebral palsy child demonstrates serious symptoms. They include unmanageable and involuntary slow writhing movements of the limbs, involuntary movements of the face or tongue, the inability to walk or stand without help because of poor muscle tone, difficulty in grasping or holding objects, the inability to feed themselves and perform activities of daily living due to uncoordinated movements, drooling and tongue thrusting, and the inability to speak or swallow food normally.
Treatment for athetoid CP includes prescribing a group of drugs known as anti-cholinergics, which are used to decrease abnormal and unwanted movements. It blocks the effects of acetylcholin, which is what triggers muscle contraction when acting on nerve cells. The other drugs prescribed for use are trihexyphenidyl, benztropine and procyclidine. There are also physical therapies that can be used to help restore certain movements, like swallowing, as well as decrease slurred speech. Advancements in technology enable patients to use athetoid cerebral palsy therapy devices, such as voice synthesizers, to make speech clearer.
The type of cerebral palsy known as athetoid CP can be distressing for the individual who must deal with this condition. A good treatment program to include addressing physical symptoms as well as psychological distress is the best course of action. Encouragement is the key to a better outcome. Encouragement drives the person to try harder and do better. Though this condition does not get progressively worse, like spastic CP, the hardships on the patient can be just as great.