Ataxic cerebral palsy is a form of non-spastic cerebral palsy. Ataxic cerebral palsy is different from dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy causes involuntary movements. Ataxic cerebral palsy will make coordination and balance more difficult for the individual. Ataxic cerebral palsy makes up approximately 5% of all cerebral palsy cases.
Risk Factors for Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
- Premature birth
- Head injuries
- Bleeding in the brain
- Infections of the brain, such as encephalitis and meningitis
- Infections of the mother during pregnancy, such as rubella
- Severe jaundice
Above are medical conditions that may increase the risk of ataxic cerebral palsy. Pinpointing a specific cause of the disease is a little different. In many cases, a health care provider will not know the medical reason for cerebral palsy. The best method for preventing ataxic cerebral palsy is good communication of medical concerns between expecting parents and their doctors.
Symptoms of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Ataxic cerebral palsy can result from damage to the cerebellum. The cerebellum is located at the base of the brain. Acting as the control center for balance and coordination, the cerebellum tells various muscle groups when and how to move. Ataxic cerebral palsy typically affects the patient’s entire body. It is characterized by very low muscle tension.
Symptoms of ataxic cerebral palsy range from mild to severe and may involve:
- Poor coordination of movements
- Poor depth perception
- Difficulty with balance
- Shaky, unsteady
- Difficulty with precise motions, such as buttoning a shirt or writing with pen and paper
- May walk with a feet farther apart to try to maintain balance
- May display difficulty with oral motor skills
- Tremors are common
Treating Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
Treatments for ataxic cerebral palsy are not meant to cure symptoms. Today’s available methods are only capable of minimizing ataxic cerebral palsy symptoms. The goal is to allow the individual to become as independent as possible. Certain methods may be older and more common for ataxic cerebral palsy.
Early Intervention Involving Physical Therapy
Early Intervention is critical for the future of a child with cerebral palsy. While children with ataxic cerebral palsy may never function normally, this treatment method will allow the child to achieve a higher level of independence. The therapist may have the child practice abilities such as sitting, crawling, walking, reaching, grasping, and speaking. If physical therapy is not begun at an early age, the child will have no hope of functioning at an adult standard with society.
Medications and Surgical Procedures
Procedures may benefit an individual with ataxic cerebral palsy. Certain medications, such as primidone and benzodiazepine, may help minimize tremors and enable coordination during gross motor functions. Surgical procedures can help as well, but they need to be performed at an early age for the best results.
Cooling techniques have recently been proven to temporarily alleviate tremors in persons with ataxic cerebral palsy. Cooling is achieved by wrapping the affected body part in a cryomanchet device that circulates fluid. The circulating fluid cools the body part and tremor within the cooled area is effectively reduced. Tremor reduction in patients with ataxic cerebral palsy lasts approximately 30 minutes. This method is most useful for basic daily tasks, such as cooking, getting dressed, applying make-up, brushing teeth, or writing.