(CP) affects muscle movement and control. People with cerebral palsy have it for
Ataxic CP is one type of cerebral palsy. Kids with ataxic cerebral palsy have trouble
with balance. They may walk with their legs farther apart than other kids. And they
can have trouble knowing exactly where something is. They might think it is closer
or farther than it actually is.
Other types of cerebral palsy can lead to muscle stiffness (spastic
CP) or writhing movements (dyskinetic
CP). Some kids have more than one kind of CP. And sometimes, the type of cerebral
palsy a child has can change over time.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is usually the result of a brain injury or problem. In ataxic CP,
the brain injury or problem is in a part of the brain
called the cerebellum. The cerebellum controls balance and coordinates
A child might be born with CP or develop it later. The brain injury or problem
doesn't get worse, but someone with CP may have different needs over time.
Cerebral palsy can be caused by:
infections during pregnancy
stroke either in the womb or after birth
(a yellowing of the skin and whites of eyes)
(babies born early) are at higher risk for CP than babies born at full-term. So are
low-birthweight babies (even if carried to term) and multiple births, such as twins
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy?
Ataxia (ah-TAK-see-uh) means that someone has trouble coordinating muscles to do
something. Kids with ataxic (ah-TAK-sik) cerebral palsy may walk with their feet spread
apart, and their walk may look unbalanced or jerky. They might not be able to get
their muscles to do other things too, like reach for a fork.
Kids with all types of CP can have vision, hearing, speech, eating, behavior, and
learning problems. Some kids have seizures.
How Is Ataxic Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
Most children with ataxic cerebral palsy are diagnosed in the first 2 years
of life. If a baby is premature or has another health problem that can be associated
with CP, this will alert health care providers to start looking for signs of CP.
No single test can diagnose ataxic CP. So health care professionals look at many
things, including a child's:
surgery to improve movement in the legs, ankles, feet, hips, wrists, and arms
Where Can Caregivers Get Help?
Taking care of a child with cerebral palsy can feel overwhelming at times. Not
only do kids with CP need a lot of attention at home, they also need to go to many
medical appointments and therapies. Don't be afraid to say yes when someone asks,
"Can I help?" Your family and friends really do want to be there for you.
To feel less alone and to connect with others who are facing the same challenges,
find a local or online support group. You also can get information and support from
CP organizations, such as:
Staying strong and healthy is not only good for you, but also for your child and
your whole family.
Living with cerebral palsy is different for every child. To help your child move
and learn as much as possible, work closely with your care team to develop a treatment
plan. Then, as your child grows and his or her needs change, adjust the plan as necessary.
These guides can help as you plan for each stage of childhood and early adulthood: