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Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Naman Jain
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  • 5 Sep, 2018 3:43 pm

Understand the facts about Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy is a common disorder that affects the ability to control movement. This form of palsy results from damage to the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that controls movement by communicating with the spinal cord. There are different forms of cerebral palsy (CP), with Dyskinetic palsy being one characterized by irregular, repetitive, and unpredictable movement.

CP is the most common physical disability in children, with a baby being born with CP every hour. Most often, CP occurs as a result of a brain injury that the developing baby experiences during pregnancy. The disability that occurs as a result of CP can range from mild to severe. It is a life-long condition that currently has no cure.

DCP Causes

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy results from damage to the part of the brain that houses the basal ganglia. This is the brain’s message center which regulates voluntary movement in conjunction with the spinal cord. There are different forms of Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy that result from damage to different parts of the structure of the basal ganglia. They are Dystonia, Athetosis, and Chorea.


Dystonia is distinguished by painful slow twisting and repetitive movements. These movements can be wide and varied and are almost always erratic. Dystonia can occur in the whole body or just one focal area of the body. This disorder often affects speech and swallowing as well as mobility and movement. Characteristic Dystonia movements include:

  • Both repetitive and sustained movements
  • Awkward postures
  • Both slow and fast painful movements
  • Involuntary movements that occur when an attempt is made to control actions
  • Involuntary movements as a result of being tired, anxious, tense or emotional
  • Increased pain resulting from heightened movement


Athetosis is a form of dyskinetic cerebral palsy distinguished by slow writhing movements. Athetosis becomes worse when voluntary attempts are made to move. This form of palsy affects the fluctuations in the muscles, with movement alternating between loose or floppy to tight. These motions are referred to as hypotonia and hyperkinesias. This form of palsy makes it difficult to hold a particular posture and requires intense concentration to control motor skills like scratching your nose or some other part of the body.

However, someone suffering from Athetosis may be able to control their movement when they are fully relaxed, which also means that Athetosis becomes worse under emotional stress. In addition, Athetosis usually disappears completely while sleeping. Characteristics of Athetosis include:

  • Slow and involuntary muscle movements
  • Restless and constant movement
  • Unwanted movements both small and big
  • Rapid, irregular, repetitive, movements
  • Slow, writhing movements that affect the hands, feet, arms, and legs
  • Involuntary and uncontrollable movement
  • Muscles of the face and tongue can cause grimacing and drooling
  • The inability to control lip and tongue movements, breathing and speech


Chorea is a form of palsy that can be mild or severe. Mild Chorea makes a person appear clumsy or fidgety, whereas severe forms produce wild, erratic, and chaotic movements that can be wide and sweeping. These movements can affect different parts of the body and make it hard to speak and swallow. Chorea becomes worse under stress and duress and with attempts to control movement. However, Chorea goes away when a person sleeps. Chorea can also take place in conjunction with Athetosis and Dystonia.

Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy is a disorder that can affect everything from the control of voluntary movement to speech and swallowing. Its symptoms often subside while a person is sleeping and become intensified and worse when a person is under emotional stress or attempting to control movement. There are three forms of this type of palsy and each is distinguished by different forms of movement. They are Dystonia, Athetosis, and Chorea. Chorea can take place in conjunction with both Dystonia and Athetosis.

As with any other form of CP, this is a lifelong condition with no current cure. Broadly speaking, cerebral palsy affects 17 million people globally, with 1 in 323 babies in the United States born with this disorder. Its effects can range from mild to extremely severe, affecting everything from mobility to speech, and even hearing and vision.


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