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What Is Athetoid Cerebral Palsy?

Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Chaitanya Bonda
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Chaitanya Bonda

Athetoid cerebral palsy is often referred to as dyskinetic cerebral palsy. It’s a subtype of cerebral palsy characterized by involuntary, uncontrolled movements. These movements primarily affect the hands, feet, and face. It makes it challenging for individuals to control their motor functions effectively. Athetoid CP is caused by damage to specific areas of the brain. They’re responsible for movement control. The condition typically occurs during pregnancy or childbirth.

The areas of the brain affected are the basal ganglia and the cerebellum. The basal ganglia is deep within the brain. It plays a crucial role in controlling voluntary motor movements. Damage to this region can lead to the erratic and uncontrollable motions seen in athetoid cerebral palsy. Also, the cerebellum can also be affected, further contributing to motor difficulties.

In this guide, we will delve into what athetoid cerebral palsy is. We will learn how to spot its symptoms and understand the distinctive athetoid movements. Also, we’ll explore treatment options, and address frequently asked questions about this condition.

Spotting Athetoid Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

In the next block, we’ll look at the symptoms of athetoid cerebral palsy. Athetoid cerebral palsy is a complex neurological condition. It comes with a wide range of symptoms. Some of which might not be immediately obvious and need careful observation. These symptoms go beyond just the unique athetoid movements. And they can include challenges related to movement, speech, thinking, and emotions.

Recognizing these symptoms early is crucial for timely diagnosis. In the next part, we’ll thoroughly examine these symptoms. We will shed light on their various forms and how they impact the lives of individuals.

Motor Function Difficulties


  • Difficulty in Holding Objects. Individuals with dyskinetic cerebral palsy may have trouble grasping and holding objects. It’s due to the constant movement in their hands.
  • Imprecise Speech. Speech difficulties can arise. It’s due to the involvement of facial muscles. It makes it challenging to articulate words clearly.
  • Difficulty with Fine Motor Skills. Tasks requiring fine motor skills (buttoning shirts or tying shoelaces) can be challenging.

Speech and Communication Impairments


  • Dysarthria. Dyskinetic cerebral palsy can lead to dysarthria. It’s a condition characterized by difficulty in controlling the muscles responsible for speech. This can result in slurred or imprecise speech. It makes it challenging for individuals to express themselves clearly.
  • Difficulty with Articulation. Athetoid movements often affect the muscles involved in articulation. It causes issues with pronouncing words correctly. Individuals may struggle to form specific sounds, impacting their ability to communicate effectively.
  • Limited Vocal Expression. Some individuals may have limited vocal expression as athetoid cerebral palsy symptoms. It’s due to muscle-related challenges. This can lead to reduced vocal volume or difficulty in modulating pitch and tone.

Cognitive and Learning Challenges


  • Executive Function Difficulties. Athetoid cerebral palsy can be associated with executive function challenges. It affects an individual’s ability to plan, organize, start tasks, and maintain attention.
  • Learning Disabilities. Some individuals with athetoid CP may experience learning disabilities. They impact their academic progress. These challenges can need specialized educational support.
  • Memory and Processing Issues. Cognitive challenges related to memory retention and information processing may be present. It makes it essential to adapt teaching and learning strategies.

a person suffering from Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Athetoid Movements Explained

Understanding athetoid movements is essential. It’s to grasp the nature of this cerebral palsy subtype. Athetoid movements are usually categorized into two primary types:

Dystonic Movements

Dystonic movements are characterized by sustained muscle contractions. It leads to abnormal postures and twisting motions. These movements can affect various parts of the body. It makes it difficult for individuals to maintain a stable position.

Dystonia can manifest differently in each individual. Some may experience dystonic movements primarily in their hands. It leads to clenched fists or twisted fingers.

Others may have dystonia affecting their legs. This causes their feet to turn inwards or outwards. These abnormal postures not only hinder mobility. But they can also result in physical discomfort and pain.

Managing dystonic movements in athetoid CP often involves a multidisciplinary approach. Physical therapy plays a crucial role in stretching and strengthening the affected muscles. It helps to ease some of the discomfort associated with dystonia. Additionally, medications such as muscle relaxants may reduce muscle contractions.

Choreic Movements

Choreic movements are rapid, jerky, and unpredictable. These movements often resemble fidgeting or restless behaviors. And they can make it challenging for individuals to control their limbs’ actions.

Chorea can affect various parts of the body. It leads to irregular and uncontrolled movements of the arms, legs, and face. These movements can be particularly frustrating for those with athetoid CP. These sudden jerks can disrupt their attempts to perform everyday tasks.

Occupational therapy is a valuable resource in addressing choreic movements. Therapists work with individuals to develop strategies for managing these rapid movements. Assistive devices, such as weighted utensils or stabilizing braces, can also help. It helps to regain control over their movements.

help to the patient with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

Treatment Options for Athetoid Cerebral Palsy

In the next part, we’ll explore a crucial aspect of managing athetoid cerebral palsy. Athetoid cerebral palsy comes with a range of challenges. It includes difficulties with movement, speech, and emotional well-being. The treatments designed to help address these challenges are diverse.

In the following section, we’ll take a closer look at these treatment options. We’ll provide insights into various approaches. For example, therapies to improve movement, strategies for better communication, and support for cognitive development.

These treatments empower individuals with athetoid CP. It helps them overcome obstacles, reach their potential, and lead fulfilling lives. We can appreciate the determination and strength of those facing athetoid cerebral palsy.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is one of the athetoid cerebral palsy treatments. It plays a significant role in managing athetoid CP. Therapists work with individuals to improve muscle strength, coordination, and range of motion. Exercises and stretches address specific motor function difficulties. And they reduce the impact of athetoid movements.

Besides addressing physical challenges, physical therapy can also boost self-confidence. They see improvements in their physical abilities. And they often gain a sense of achievement.

Occupational Therapy

This athetoid cerebral palsy treatment focuses on helping develop practical skills for daily living. Therapists work on activities like self-care, dressing, and using assistive devices. It’s to enhance independence.

One of the key goals of occupational therapy is to promote functional independence. This means helping individuals get the skills necessary to perform essential daily tasks on their own.


Medications may manage athetoid movements and reduce muscle spasms. These medications aim to provide relief from involuntary movements. Although they may have side effects.

Medications used as athetoid cerebral palsy treatment often include muscle relaxants and anticholinergic drugs. These medications can help ease the discomfort and frustration associated with constant movements.

Assistive Devices

Wheelchairs, communication aids, and adaptive tools can significantly improve the quality of life. These devices help compensate for motor function difficulties and enhance mobility and communication.

For individuals with severe athetoid CP, mobility can be a significant challenge. Wheelchairs, both manual and motorized, provide them with the freedom to move independently. Communication aids, such as speech-generating devices, enable individuals with speech difficulties to express themselves more effectively.

Surgical Interventions

This is athetoid cerebral palsy treatment for severe cases. It’s to address specific issues related to athetoid CP. These interventions are typically reserved for individuals with severe motor impairments or complications.

One such surgical option is deep brain stimulation (DBS). DBS involves the implantation of electrodes into specific regions of the brain. It includes the basal ganglia, which is often affected in athetoid CP. These electrodes are connected to a device similar to a pacemaker. It delivers electrical impulses to modulate brain activity. It has shown promise in reducing the severity of condition and improving quality of life.


Athetoid cerebral palsy is a subtype of cerebral palsy. It’s characterized by involuntary, uncontrolled movements. They primarily affect the hands, feet, and face. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for managing this condition effectively. With a combination of therapies, medications, assistive devices, and, in some cases, surgical interventions, individuals with athetoid CP can lead fulfilling lives and overcome many of the challenges posed by this neurological disorder.


What causes athetoid cerebral palsy?

It’s caused by damage to specific areas of the brain responsible for motor control. This damage can occur during pregnancy, childbirth, or shortly after birth. It’s due to factors such as oxygen deprivation, infections, or genetic mutations.


Are athetoid movements always a sign of cerebral palsy?

No, athetoid movements are not always indicative of cerebral palsy. Athetoid movements are a common characteristic of athetoid cerebral palsy. But other neurological or genetic disorders can cause them. A comprehensive medical evaluation is necessary. It’s to determine the underlying cause of these movements.


How common is athetoid cerebral palsy?

Athetoid cerebral palsy is one of the less common subtypes of cerebral palsy. It’s estimated to account for around 10-20% of all cerebral palsy cases. However, the exact prevalence may vary by region and population.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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