Speech Therapy

What is Ataxic Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive motor condition that usually affects a child immediately after the birth. Ataxic cerebral palsy is a type of the condition which is the least common among the three types of the disease. Almost 5-10 percent of children born with cerebral palsy are affected with the ataxic type. Ataxic cerebral palsy is known to damage the cerebellum in the brain.

Affect of Cerebellum Damage: The cerebellum controls the coordination between the muscles and also balances the action of muscles. Since the ataxic condition affects the cerebellum, the control over muscle coordination is lost and thus, movement coordination is affected.

Apart from affecting the actions of all the limbs, this condition also leads to hypotonia (a poor muscle tone).

Hypotonia: Children who become hypotonic face the following problems-

  • delays in motor skill development
  • difficulties with speech
  • lack of attention

The delay in motor skill development affects both the fine and the gross motor skills. Children who suffer from these delays are observed to be late in the following-

  • lifting the head while lying on their stomach
  • in getting to a seated position
  • rolling over
  • crawling
  • walking
  • grasping
  • eye watching
  • pointing out objects

Affect on Speech: Another major area where children face a lot of difficulties is speech. Due to the weak muscles, children have a problem with sucking and swallowing which even affects their feeding patterns. But, improper suction or swallowing also cause speech impediments.

  • Although the level of understanding vocabulary and commands is still at the same level as rest of the children of the same age, ataxic children have a delayed speech when compared with their peers.
  • The weak jaw and mouth muscles cause the children to hamper pronunciation which can cause hindrances while forming sentences.
  • Another associated problem with these speech difficulties would be the diagnosis of the actual underlying condition. Hypotonia may often lead to delay in diagnosis as the doctors would have to confirm if the delay in speech is due to a weak muscle tone or any other neurological condition.

An early intervention is necessary to deal with the problems and symptoms a child suffers because of ataxic cerebral palsy. Although this condition is not progressive, it is permanent and a child musty be trained early in order to lead a quality life.

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