What You Should Know About Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?

What You Should Know About Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?

Athetoid cerebral palsy (CP) is a condition characterized by abnormal, involuntary movements. This form of cerebral palsy is the second-most common type and affects between 12% and 14% of all people diagnosed with CP. People with athetoid CP fluctuate between hypertonia, or highly rigid muscles, and hypotonia, or very low muscular tension. Because of this, children who have this form of CP have trouble controlling the movement of their limbs.

Athetoid cerebral palsy sometimes results from medical mistakes made by healthcare providers during pregnancy or delivery. If your child has been diagnosed with athetoid cerebral palsy that you believe might have been caused by a medical provider’s negligence, you should speak to a Philadelphia Cerebral Palsy lawyer at the law firm of Raynes & Lawn. Infant injury law firms represent families whose children developed cerebral palsy because of substandard care they received before, during, or after birth.

Athetoid Cerebral Palsy Causes

Athetoid cerebral palsy is caused by malformations or interruptions of the basal ganglia in the brain while the fetal brain is developing. These brain injuries affect children’s ability to control the voluntary movements of their limbs. The basal ganglia control coordination and muscle movements.

The basal ganglia can be damaged during pregnancy, during a difficult labor, or shortly following birth. In some cases, genetic mutations or maternal infections can cause a child to develop athetoid cerebral palsy. Birth injuries can also cause this type of CP. For example, a doctor who improperly uses forceps might damage the basal ganglia and cause a baby to develop athetoid CP.

Birth trauma, infections, jaundice, and accidents shortly after birth can also cause a baby to develop athetoid cerebral palsy. For example, if someone drops an infant, the baby could develop this condition. Untreated jaundice and meningitis also can cause this type of cerebral palsy by damaging the basal ganglia. Other risk factors for athetoid cerebral palsy include the following:

  • Birth asphyxia
  • Birth injuries
  • Low birth weight
  • Medical negligence
  • Preterm birth

Symptoms of Athetoid CP

In most cases, parents might begin to see signs of this condition when their babies are around nine months old. Involuntary or jerky movements before this age might indicate delays in development but generally don’t indicate athetoid CP.

The following symptoms should prompt you to talk to a doctor:

  • Lack of kicking
  • Trouble holding posture
  • Writhing, slow movements
  • Rigidity or stiffness
  • Floppiness
  • Inability to hold head up at three months
  • Lack of reaching
  • Lack of smiling by three months
  • Lack of rolling over

Athetoid CP is a permanent condition. While there isn’t a cure, treatment can help children gain independence and improve their functioning. Your child might undergo a combination of therapies, receive medication, and potentially undergo surgery to help them.


Athetoid CP is rarely diagnosed before a child reaches nine months. Before that time, it is more difficult to identify the symptoms. If you notice that your baby has coordination and balance problems or has jerky, abnormal movements, it might indicate your child has CP. Before your child will be diagnosed, however, a doctor will need to complete a physical examination and tests to confirm they have cerebral palsy.

While there isn’t a cure for athetoid CP, it doesn’t worsen over time. This form of CP also typically doesn’t limit the life expectancy of people who have it unlike more severe forms of CP. Treatment can also improve a person’s quality of life and potentially give them more control over their movements.

To diagnose athetoid CP, a doctor will do the following things:

  • Get your child’s complete medical history
  • Complete a physical examination
  • Perform blood tests
  • Conduct an MRI of the brain
  • Conduct tests of your child’s gross motor movements

Treatment for Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Treatment for athetoid cerebral palsy focuses on helping children gain independence and gain more control over their muscles. Some of the types of treatment your child’s doctor might recommend include the following:

1. Physical Therapy

A physical therapist will help your child perform exercises that are designed to strengthen your child’s muscles and improve their mobility. Physical therapy also can help children by preventing additional complications that could occur.

2. Speech Therapy

Many children who have athetoid cerebral palsy have difficulty speaking. A speech therapist might work with your child to help them improve control of their facial muscles and assist them with improving their breathing.

3. Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy helps children develop better fine muscle control and perform daily tasks such as grasping objects and writing. This type of therapy helps children gain more independence and improve their overall development.

4. Stem Cell Therapy

Stem cell therapy might be used to repair some damage to the nerves and reduce brain inflammation. It might be helpful to improve your child’s long-term functioning and ability to manage the symptoms of athetoid CP.

5. Medication

Your doctor might prescribe medication to your child to help manage certain symptoms associated with cerebral palsy. Anticholinergic medications might be prescribed to help control pain and muscle spasms.

6. Orthopedic Surgery

Orthopedic surgery might be recommended to correct a deformity that causes your child difficulty with walking. However, it is generally only used for children with severe deformities or pain while moving or walking.

Talk to Birth Injury Lawyers Near Me

If you are searching for a birth injury lawyer in Philadelphia to discuss your child’s athetoid CP and potential case, you should contact the law firm of Raynes & Lawn. We have represented medical malpractice victims for more than five decades and have an in-depth understanding of cases involving cerebral palsy. To learn more about the merits of your case, call us today for a free consultation at 1-800-535-1797.




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