- Parents Home
- Allergy Center
- Asthma Center
- Cancer Center
- Diabetes Center
- A to Z
- Emotions & Behavior
- First Aid & Safety
- Food Allergy Center
- General Health
- Growth & Development
- Flu Center
- Heart Health
- Helping With Homework
- Diseases & Conditions
- Nutrition & Fitness Center
- Play & Learn Center
- School & Family Life
- Pregnancy & Newborn Center
- Sports Medicine Center
- Doctors & Hospitals
- Para Padres
- Kids Home
- Asthma Center for Kids
- Cancer Center for Kids
- Movies & More
- Diabetes Center for Kids
- Getting Help
- Puberty & Growing Up
- Health Problems of Grown-Ups
- Health Problems
- Homework Center
- How the Body Works
- Illnesses & Injuries
- Nutrition & Fitness Center for Kids
- Recipes & Cooking for Kids
- Staying Healthy
- Stay Safe Center
- Relax & Unwind Center
- Q&A for Kids
- The Heart
- Videos for Kids
- Staying Safe
- Kids' Medical Dictionary
- Para Niños
- Teens Home
- Asthma Center for Teens
- Be Your Best Self
- Cancer Center for Teens
- Diabetes Center for Teens
- Diseases & Conditions (for Teens)
- Drugs & Alcohol
- Expert Answers (Q&A)
- Flu Center for Teens
- Homework Help for Teens
- Infections (for Teens)
- Managing Your Medical Care
- Managing Your Weight
- Nutrition & Fitness Center for Teens
- Recipes for Teens
- Safety & First Aid
- School & Work
- Sexual Health
- Sports Center
- Stress & Coping Center
- Videos for Teens
- Para Adolescentes
Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy
What Is Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy (CP) affects muscle movement and control. People with cerebral palsy have it for life.
Dyskinetic CP (also called athetoid CP) is one type of cerebral palsy. Kids with dyskinetic (diss-kih-NET-ik) CP have trouble controlling muscle movement. They have twisting, abrupt movements.
Other types of cerebral palsy can lead to stiff muscles (spastic CP) or problems with balance and walking (ataxic CP). Some kids have more than one kind of CP, also called “mixed pattern CP.” And sometimes, the type of CP a child has can change over time.
What Causes Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is thought to be caused by a brain injury or problem. In dyskinetic CP, the injury or problem is in an area of the brain called the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia is responsible for getting messages about movement from the brain to the muscles.
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 or other medical problems during a woman’s pregnancy
- having a stroke while in the womb or after birth
- genetic disorders
- a problem during birth
- untreated jaundice (yellowing of skin or whites of the eyes)
- being shaken as a baby (shaken baby syndrome)
- traumatic brain injury in early childhood
Premature babies (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 and triplets.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy?
Kids with dyskinetic cerebral palsy have trouble making their muscles do what they want them to. When they try to get their muscles to move a certain way, other movements happen, such as:
- dystonia: twisting and repeating movements that can be painful
- athetosis: slow, writhing movements
- chorea: irregular, abrupt movements
Kids with all types of CP can have vision, hearing, speech, eating, behavior, and learning problems. Some kids have seizures.
How Is Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
Most children with dyskinetic cerebral palsy are diagnosed in the first 2 years of life. Health care providers look for signs of CP if a baby is born early or has another health problem that's associated with CP.
No single test can diagnose dyskinetic CP. So health care professionals look at many things, including a child's:
- muscle tone
Testing may include:
- brain MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound
- blood and urine (pee) tests to check for other medical conditions, including genetic conditions
- electroencephalography (EEG) to look at electrical activity in the brain
- electromyography (EMG) to check for muscle weakness
- evaluation of how a child walks and moves
- speech, hearing, and vision testing
How Is Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy Treated?
There is no cure for cerebral palsy. But resources and therapies can help kids grow and develop to their greatest potential. The treatment plan may include:
- physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy
- leg braces, a walker, and/or a wheelchair
- medicine for muscle pain, stiffness, or irregular movements
- special nutrition to help the child grow
- 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 their needs change, adjust the plan as needed.
These guides can help as you plan for each stage of childhood and early adulthood:
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995- KidsHealth® All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.