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Cerebral palsy is a disorder that affects movement and posture. Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to a specific area of the brain, resulting in the disruption of the individual’s sensory-motor skills. The area of the brain the injury affects determines the type of cerebral palsy. Injury to the cerebellum can result in a form called hypotonic cerebral palsy.
There are certain signs that may suggest the presence of hypotonic cerebral palsy. Normally infants give only a moderate amount of resistance to you when you move their extremities. Children affected with hypotonic cerebral palsy appear floppy; for example, hypotonic babies have an appearance similar to a rag doll. Hypotonic cerebral palsy infants rest with their elbows and knees loosely extended, while infants with normal tone tend to have flexed elbows and knees. Head control may be poor or absent in the floppy infant with the head falling to the side, backward or forward. Hypotonic cerebral palsy can also be so severe that the infant may have difficulty breathing.
Infants or young children who have difficulty maintaining posture against gravity and prefer to sit leaning against something or lying on the floor may have hypotonic cerebral palsy. Preschool-aged children may sit in a fashion that appears lazy. Rather than sitting upright, they mostly sit in a slouching manner, lean on the chair or a table with the head over the top of the table, or lie down during activities as much as possible which could also be a sign of hypotonic cerebral palsy. Children with hypotonic cerebral palsy have to put forth more effort in order to move their arms and legs, resulting in fatigue.
Often children with hypotonic cerebral palsy have good arm and leg movements but the range of movements at the hips, elbows and knees is excessive. Poor sucking and chewing may also be present in some children with hypotonic cerebral palsy. Helping a child with hypotonic cerebral palsy can be difficult, but by helping them help themselves, you can ease the troubles they face in the future. By going through this regiment of practice exercises you can build strength and confidence in your child.
Throughout development, you can practice certain exercises to build strength in a child with hypotonic cerebral palsy. During the infant stage, wrap the baby in a blanket to make him or her feel secure and also support good position. If the child has difficulty lifting its head, lay the baby on its stomach facing your chest while in a slightly reclined position. This will reduce the effects of gravity on the child.
When placing a child with hypotonic cerebral palsy in a highchair, look for ways to support them. Adhere a non-skid pad to the seat to prevent their bottom from sliding out and place some towels on the side to prevent them from leaning to one side. When down on all fours, encourage the child to support their weight with their hands.
Sitting up can be especially difficult for a child with hypotonic cerebral palsy. Hold the child at the rib cage at first to develop strength, and then move to the hips. Be sure that the child is sitting upright instead of rounded. As the child progresses provide less help and position his or her legs tightly crossed.
To promote hand strength in a child with hypotonic cerebral palsy, encourage them to play with Play-doh™ or putty, which will provide resistance. Using crayons instead of markers to draw provides resistance as well. If the child is having difficulty learning to draw, have them imitate simple shapes and lines in sand to reduce the difficulty of holding a crayon.