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 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. 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 during pregnancy
stroke either in the womb or after birth
untreated jaundice (yellowing
of skin or whites of the eyes)
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 (diss-kih-NET-ik) 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:
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: