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Movement Disorders

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders usually characterized by some impairment in motor function, whether it is a slight limp, or an inability to walk.  Cerebral palsy is a type of movement disorder that is non-progressive, meaning that the symptoms do not get worse over time. 

Other movement disorders which may have similar symptoms of cerebral palsy but are not CP are:  Ataxia, Blepharospasm, Dysphonia, Dystonic disorders, Gait disorders, Huntington's disease, Myoclonus, Parkinson's disease, Spasticity, Tardive dyskinesia, Tics and Tourette’s syndrome, and Tremor.  Some people with cerebral palsy exhibit signs and symptoms of these other movement disorders, especially spasticity and tremors.

Cerebral palsy is a type of movement disorder that affects muscle control over motion and may not be apparent for a few years after birth.  Some sort of trauma to the brain usually causes the disorder before, during, or shortly after birth.  Some causes of cerebral palsy can be prevented and they include jaundice, Rh incompatibility issues, or other medical mistakes.

Cerebral palsy affects muscle tissue due to its brain malfunction.  Some people with cerebral palsy have increased muscle tone, while others have a decrease in muscle tone.  Other persons with cerebral palsy have a type of the movement disorder that fluctuates from increased to decreased muscle tone.  Often this disorder is most prominently obvious in the legs or the arms. 

The three main types of cerebral palsy are spastic CP, athetoid CP, and ataxic CP.  There may be a type of cerebral palsy that is a combination of two or three.  Spasticity refers to the muscle tissues being very stiff, and people with spastic cerebral palsy often have difficulty walking or moving.  Athetoid cerebral palsy is a type of movement disorder that results in uncontrolled movements and tics.  People with ataxic cerebral palsy tend to be off-balance and have difficulty sensing depth.

Movement disorders such as cerebral palsy are not curable.  The symptoms of cerebral palsy, however, can be treated with long-term therapies and other treatments such as adaptive equipment (computers, wheelchairs), prescription drugs, and alternative healing options.  As cerebral palsy manifests itself as a movement disorder, the basic functioning of the person with cerebral palsy is compromised.  Each person with cerebral palsy has his or her own individual symptoms and severities. 

Only with careful and long-term monitoring and testing can cerebral palsy be effectively diagnosed and then treated.  A doctor who suspects cerebral palsy may also have to rule out other movement disorders, such as those mentioned above.  At times a misdiagnosis can lead to serious complications in the development of treatment options.  Only a quick and sure diagnosis can help with formulating a plan of treatment options for cerebral palsy as a movement disorder.


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