Hypotonia means diminished muscle tone. Infants with hypotonia will usually have trouble maintaining certain positions without having support because the muscles will be floppy and too relaxed to hold enough contraction. The primary treatment is physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and correct posture. Speech difficulty, problems with swallowing, and compromised breathing can also be helped by different therapies.
Symptoms of Hypotonia in Cerebral Palsy Patients
Patients with low muscle tone or hypotonia may have:
- Floppy limbs
- Poor posture
- Cannot hold up their heads
- Difficulty walking
All of these symptoms are due to poor muscle tone. Lack of muscle tone also can compromise:
However, hypotonia does not affect intelligence.
The cause of low muscle tone in patients with cerebral palsy, like the cause of other forms of the disorder, is related to injury in the fetal brain. The damage causing hypotonia usually occurs in the cerebellum, located in the lower part of the brain behind the brain stem. This part of the brain controls balance and coordination.
Imaging scans can be used to verify a diagnosis of this type of cerebral palsy.
When oxygen fails to reach the cerebellum, this brain tissue is damaged or dies. Some situations that can damage the cerebellum include:
- Exposure to infection and toxins
- Strokes in the fetus caused by bleeding of weak blood vessels or by blockage of the vessels by blood clots
- High blood pressure or pelvic inflammatory disease in the mother can cause strokes in the fetus
If your child has been diagnosed with hypotonia, contact our cerebral palsy attorneys for more information.