Cerebral palsy (CP) affects the brain and the nervous system and is associated with a variety of symptoms.
This condition can be divided according to manifestations of different symptoms into four main types – spastic, ataxic, dyskenetic or atheotic, which includes both hypotonia and hypertonia, and mixed.
CP is a lifelong disorder but not necessarily associated with a decreased life expectancy.
Symptoms of CP range from mild to very severe, manifest unilateral (hemiplegia) or bilateral, involve upper or lower extremities (diplegia), or both upper and lower extremities, with the addition of the trunk, throat and face (quadriplegia).
– tightening of muscles with little or no ability to stretch, accompanied by normal reflexes (rigidity) or exaggerated reflexes (spastisity)
– abnormal gait – arms tucked into the sides, knees crossed or touching, legs making “scissors” movements, walking on the toes
– joint contracture
– muscles weakness and loss of muscle tone (hypotonia) or loss of movement in a group of
– involuntary and uncontrolled movements, such as twisting, jerking, or writhing (athethosis)
– unsteady gait
– loss of coordination and balance (ataxia)
Neurologic and brain complications
– chronic pain
– possible decreased intellectual abilities
– learning disabilities
– speech problems (dysarthria)
– hearing problems
– vision problems
– irregular breathing
– urinary incontinence
– difficulty in chewing
– difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia)
– excessive drooling
Dopaminergic medications (e.g. levodopa/carbidopa, trihexyphenidyl): to decrease rigidity and involuntarily movements.
Muscle relaxants (e.g. baclofen): to reduce spasticity.
Benzodiazepines (e.g. diazepam): to relieve anxiety, muscle spasms, seizures and control agitation.
Anticonvulsants (e.g. phenytoin): to prevent or reduce the frequency of seizures.
- Oral Health Care Considerations