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What is ataxic cerebral palsy?

A less common type of CP, ataxic cerebral palsy (sometimes also referred to as hypotonic cerebral palsy) involves damage to the cerebellum.  Ataxic cerebral palsy is usually characterized by significantly diminished muscle tone, coordination and depth perception.

Appearance of fatigue

Compared to their healthy peers, children with ataxic CP may appear as though they are constantly fatigued due to their inability to hold their heads steady.  When children with ataxic cerebral palsy possess the strength to walk, they appear to be unusually shaky and imbalanced.  The shakiness in ataxic CP patients is also commonly seen when they attempt a task that requires fine motor skills—like painting or drawing– and gets worse the closer their hands get to the object.

Altered gait

Another, telling characteristic of ataxic cerebral palsy is that many people with the condition have an unusually wide gait— with their feet very far apart– which is likely due to issues with their balance.

In order to improve physical strength and build self-confidence, some experts suggest encouraging ataxic CP patients to play with common toys such as markers and Silly Putty which can help improve coordination and gradually improve gross motor skills.

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