Making up 5 to 10% of all cerebral palsy cases, ataxic cerebral palsy refers to damage of the cerebellum, which is the base of the brain. The cerebellum controls balance and coordination, as well as facilitates the movement of several muscle groups.
Ataxic cerebral palsy can affect a child in different ways. The child may develop an unusually wide-based walk. Because ataxic cerebral palsy causes a poor sense of balance, children with this birth injury will tend to walk with their feet far apart. In addition, a child with ataxic cerebral palsy will look unsteady and shaky due to poor muscle tone, which causes the body to constantly attempt to counter balance itself.
Symptoms of Ataxic Cerebral Palsy
The most common symptom of ataxic cerebral palsy is tremor, particularly when attempting quick or precise movements, such as buttoning a jacket. Commonly referred to as an intention tremor, this characteristic of ataxic cerebral palsy worsens when trying a voluntary movement. For instance, when a child with ataxic cerebral palsy reaches for an object, such as a toy, their hand and arm will shake. As the hand nears the object, the trembling will increase, making it difficult for the child to complete the task quickly.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy Treatment
Although no cure exists for intention tremors, treatments are available to reduce this common ataxic cerebral palsy symptom. Drugs, including primidone and benzodiazepine, can help alleviate tremors. However, these medications are not intended for long-term use.
Cooling of the forearm, a relatively new form of treatment, also helps reduce the occurrence of tremors in ataxic cerebral palsy patients. In this method, the forearm is wrapped in a cryomanchet using a circulating fluid. After being cooled, the arm will be nearly tremor-free for about 30 minutes. Arm cooling can help a child performing daily activities such as eating, writing or bathing. It can also cause children with ataxic cerebral palsy to become less dependent on caregivers.
Ataxic cerebral palsy can place a burden on both a child and their loved ones. If your child was born with ataxic cerebral palsy, our birth injury lawyers may be able to help. Fill out our free case review form on the right to find out how you can seek justice for your child’s birth injury.