Caring for a child who suffers from athetoid cerebral palsy (sometimes called dyskinetic cerebral palsy) is not easy. As a parent, there are many questions you may have. Of course, it’s important that you have a good doctor for your child. But you may
need additional help if your child’s condition was caused by someone else’s negligence. Many of these cases are caused by a doctor’s error during delivery and could have been prevented.
If your child suffered this traumatic birth brain injury, contact our experienced attorneys today.
- What is Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
- What Causes Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
- What are the Symptoms of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
- The Different Classes of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
- What are Possible Complications from Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
- The Cost of Treating Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
What is Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
Athetoid cerebral palsy is characterized by involuntary, uncontrolled movements. It affects about 10 percent of children who suffer from cerebral palsy. Athetoid cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain at the back of the skull that coordinates and regulates muscular activity. The part of the brain is responsible for processing signals that coordinate movements and maintain the body’s posture. When damage occurs to infants in these areas, it can cause an infant to perform involuntary, purposeless movements. These movements can be especially prevalent in the arms and face.
These movements can also interfere with a child’s basic developmental skills, such as speaking, feeding, reaching and other skills that require coordinated movements. These movements also often increase during periods of emotional stress and disappear during sleep. Children diagnosed with athetoid cerebral palsy will also often have low muscle tone and problems maintaining posture when sitting and walking.
What Causes Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
All types of cerebral palsy are caused by brain damage or brain malformations. What form cerebral palsy will take on depends on how severe the brain damage is and where it occurred on the brain. Brain damage occurs during or before birth, or shortly thereafter. In cases of athetoid cerebral palsy, there is usually damage to the cerebellum.
When brain damage occurs in an unborn baby, it can be very severe. Infections in the mother can lead to brain damage. Strokes in unborn babies can cause bleeding in the baby’s brain, which can lead to athetoid/dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Blood vessels that are weak or abnormal cause strokes in unborn babies, as they lead to poor circulation. Blood clots in the placenta can also lead to stroke by blocking the baby’s circulation.
If the mother suffers from high blood pressure, her unborn baby is at increased risk of stroke. Monitoring blood pressure closely is essential to good prenatal care.
Athetoid/dyskinetic cerebral palsy can also be caused by severe cases of jaundice. Jaundice, a common condition in newborn babies, is when excess bilirubin builds up in the bloodstream. In mild cases, jaundice will disappear without treatment. Severe cases, however, can lead to brain damage, which can in turn lead to cerebral palsy.
A baby can also suffer brain damage due to a medical error during delivery. If this happened to your baby, you should speak to an attorney today about how to demand accountability and get your baby the best help possible.
What are the Symptoms of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
People with athetoid cerebral palsy may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:
- Slow, involuntary, sometimes writhing movements in the arms, hands and legs
- Involuntary facial grimaces and drooling
- Difficulty swallowing or eating, which can lead to poor nutrition
- Difficulty sitting straight or walking
- Difficulty holding onto objects or performing actions, such as brushing hair
- Difficulty speaking
A mixture of muscle tone that can be too tight and too loose contributes to these symptoms. This is because the muscles are often overused or underused due to the unpredictable motions.
Although these physical symptoms can be severe, the mental and cognitive ability of patients with athetoid cerebral palsy is rarely affected. Patients typically have normal or above average intelligence, which can lead to frustration over their inability to control their movements despite having full control of their brain.
The Different Classes of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
Athetoid cerebral palsy can be divided into classes that further classify the condition. These are based on the specific type of involuntary movement. These classifications include:
- Dyskinesia: This is the general term that describes involuntary movements. This is when athetoid cerebral palsy is often referred to as dyskinetic cerebral palsy.
- Chorea: This is when there are sudden involuntary movements, especially in fingers and toes.
- Athetosis: This is characterized by sluggish, writhing movements, typically in the fingers and face.
- Choreoathetoid: This is a combination of chorea and athetosis.
- Dystonia: This is when there is slow, rotational movement of the torso, arm or leg. This leads to poor posture.
- Ataxia: This is a rare type of cerebral palsy that occurs when there is a loss of balance and coordination.
- Rigidity: This is when there is high muscle tone, which causes restricted movement.
What are Possible Complications from Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
Patients with athetoid cerebral palsy can develop problems in the cervical spine. This can cause them to become physically disabled.
Neurologically, athetoid cerebral palsy patients can be considered stable; however, they often develop functional problems because of cervical myelopathy, which is damage affecting the neurons that transmit messages from the brain to the nervous system and spine. Cervical myelopathy can lead to a narrowing of the spinal canal and to degeneration of spinal discs.
Dislocated hips and foot deformities can also occur. Hip dislocations can be caused by an imbalance of muscle tension on the femur. Foot drop, also referred to as drop foot, can also occur. Foot drop is when lifting the front of the foot becomes difficult.
Ankle equinus, a condition where the ankle joint is stiff and the patient walks on his or her toes, can occur, too. Typically, deformities of the joints and dislocations are less likely in in athetoid/dyskinetic cerebral palsy and more likely with spastic forms of cerebral palsy, which place more stress on bones and joints.
What are the Treatment Options for Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?
Physical therapy is the most common way to help treat athetoid cerebral palsy. This can be done with patients of all ages, including schoolchildren.
Speech therapy will also greatly help improve communication skills. Some patients who suffer from athetoid cerebral palsy also have difficulty chewing and swallowing. Some forms of therapy can help with these difficulties.
Medications can be prescribed to control or prevent spasms. For deformed limbs, surgery can be performed. Massage and yoga have also been found to help alleviate some symptoms of cerebral palsy.
Always be careful when selecting the right options for treatment. Consult with your doctors. Be sure to kind in mind that alternative medicine approaches should only supplement standard care.
The Cost of Treating Athetoid Cerebral Palsy
Some of the costs associated with athetoid cerebral palsy include:
- A wheelchair: Manual wheelchairs with adjustable seats can cost as much as $3,500. Electric wheelchairs can cost upwards of $10,000.
- Communication system: Some patients, especially children, can have a very hard time talking. A system to help them communicate can cost around $4,000.
- Prone stander: These are used to help children stand and can cost between $1,000 and $1,500.
- Transportation: For some suffering from cerebral palsy, a special van or vehicle is needed to transport the person. These can cost about $20,000 to $30,000.
Contact an Experienced Cerebral Palsy Attorney
The athetoid cerebral palsy lawyers at Oshman & Mirisola are here to stand up for you if your child was born with this condition due to a doctor’s negligence. We have the passion, proven track record and dedication that these cases require.