Cerebral palsy is a common childhood disorder, yet it comes in various types and varying degrees of severity. One of the many types of the disorder is hypertonic cerebral palsy, also known as hypotonic cerebral palsy.
What is Hypertonic Cerebral Palsy?
Hypertonic cerebral palsy is marked by extremely stiff muscles that occur when the child’s body becomes tense. The stiff muscles are a result of an affected nervous system that sends abnormal messages to the body. These abnormal signals also cause the child’s body to become spastic.
Hypertonic Cerebral Palsy Causes
Hypertonic cerebral palsy is typically the result of a damaged cerebellum, a part of the brain located towards the back of the skull. There are a number of different things that cause cerebellum damage, including:
- Maternal infections
- A difficult and prolonged labor and delivery
- Medical mistakes and negligence, such as failing to schedule and carry out an emergency C-section in time
- Certain medications taken while pregnant
Hypertonic Cerebral Palsy Symptoms
Not every child will exhibit the same signs and symptoms of hypertonic cerebral palsy, but in general, the most commons symptoms include:
- Poor, uncoordinated balance
- Widened gait, scissor-like walking
- Stiff movement
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle contractions
- Stiff, rigid muscles
How is Hypertonic Cerebral Palsy Treated?
Physical therapy, as with most other forms of cerebral palsy, is highly recommended for children with hypertonic cerebral palsy. Physical therapists can create a customized program for your child that helps with his/her balance, coordination, and muscle strengthening
Many children with hypertonic cerebral palsy take medications that help with muscle stiffness and rigidness. The most commonly-prescribed medications include:
For severe cases of muscle stiffness and rigidity, surgery may be a treatment option, but usually after all other options have been exhausted. Your physician will be able to give you information on surgery options, including which type will work best for your child’s individualized needs.
Long-term Outlook for Children with Hypertonic Cerebral Palsy
As with all forms of cerebral palsy, the long-term outlook of children with hypertonic cerebral palsy will depend on how severe the disorder is, as well as how well the child takes to treatment options. However, most children will go on to live productive lives as long as an established treatment plan is in place. Although your child will live with hypertonic cerebral palsy indefinitely, today’s treatment options ensure that symptoms and pain are kept under control.
Remember, if you have any questions or concerns regarding hypertonic cerebral palsy, reach out to your child’s physician.