The Effect of Cerebral Palsy on Muscle Tone
Cerebral palsy is a movement disorder, caused by damage to or malformation of the region of the brain that controls body movement. These brain abnormalities interfere with the normal transmission of signals to the body's muscles and produce the types of motions that characterize the condition.
Cerebral palsy is not a disease and cannot be transmitted from person to person; it is a condition most of its sufferers are born with. Depending upon the type of brain damage, muscle tone in the infant with cerebral palsy may be:
- Too loose, as when an infant may appear
- Too floppy, these newborns are said to have hypotonia
- Too stiff or tight, called hypertonia; infants with this type of the disorder appear stiff or rigid. This produces exaggerated reflexes or spasticity
In some newborns, after the baby is two to three months old, the condition goes from being hypotonic to being hypertonic. These abnormalities in muscle tone are among some of the early indications that a child has cerebral palsy.
Parents who notice such types of abnormalities should call the pediatrician. The sooner a diagnosis can be made the sooner physical therapy and other forms of treatment can be started. It also helps the doctor and parents anticipate future types of problems and treatments.
Cerebral Palsy and Low Muscle Tone
Low muscles tone is called hypotonia. Cerebral palsy less often causes hypotonia than it does hypertonia, or the spastic form of the disorder.
Parents can easily recognize hypotonia in their newborns and infants. These babies have:
- Floppy arms and legs
- Cannot hold up their heads
The looseness of the muscles can interfere with swallowing and cause malnutrition. Hypotonia may affect speech. It also can lead to problems with the joints and bone development.
Cerebral Palsy and Muscle Spasms and Cramps
The most common kind of cerebral palsy is spastic cerebral palsy. This occurs when the flexor muscles, those that allow us to bend our arms or legs, are too tight. They are said to be hypertonic. The muscles cannot relax. And the more these muscles are stretched, the tighter they become.
This produces spasms that affect the movement of the arms, the legs, how someone is able to grab objects, and walk. It can affect muscles in the face and also may affect the spine, preventing it from developing properly. Muscle spasms can result in severe legs cramps.
To learn more about cerebral palsy and muscle disorders, contact our cerebral palsy attorneys today.