Cerebral Palsy Dystonia occurs when the body’s muscles act against each other at a joint and the exertion spreads to adjacent muscles, arms or legs, causing them to act abnormally. Muscle tone can fluctuate from being normal or low to extremely tight or high.
The origin of dystonia in children with cerebral palsy can be traced to identifiable lesions in the brain or abnormalities in metabolism. The extent and areas of muscle involvement can vary. The condition is classified as focal when it is localized, segmental when it affects a portion of the body, or generalized when it is widespread.
This type of cerebral palsy is one among a number of movement disorders termed dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Athetoid and choreoathetoid cerebral palsy patients also are included in this group.
The disorders are caused by brain damage that interferes with its sending signals to the muscles. The signals cause opposing muscles to contract simultaneously, producing abnormal twisting motions and posture.
Dyskinetic cerebral palsy occurs in about 0.27 cases of live births.
Cerebral Palsy Dystonia Symptoms
Involuntary muscle contractions in these patients produce symptoms that include:
- Slow, writhing, twisting movements that can affect the limbs, hands, feet and face
- Abnormal movements of the face, tongue, and mouth such as grimacing or drooling.
- Abnormal posture
- Difficulty talking
- Problems sitting upright
- Difficulty walking
The disorder does not affect intelligence.
These movements vary with the patient’s emotional state, and when the patient tries to move, the abnormal motions increase. When persons with this disorder are distracted or fall asleep, the abnormal movements lessen or disappear completely.
Treating Cerebral Palsy DystoniaDoctors use different kinds of treatments for the condition. These include medications that are given orally or injected, surgery, and Botulinum Toxin. Botulinum Toxin-A is used to decrease the activity of the nerves and relax spastic muscles. Botulinum Toxin-A has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this particular use, but the drug is used “off-label” by many doctors because of its efficacy.
“Off-label” use of a drug is legal. In the case of “off-label” use, the drug has been approved by the FDA to treat certain conditions or diseases, but it is being used to treat another condition for which it has not received specific approval.
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