One of the many types of cerebral palsy is hypotonic CP. When one moves the arms and legs of healthy infants they offer a moderate amount of resistance. Conversely, children suffering from hypotonic cerebral palsy are more limp, with minimal control of their limbs. Infants with healthy muscle tone have flexed elbows and knees, hypotonic CP infants rest with their elbows and knees loosely extended. Head control is poor in the hypotonic CP infant with the head often falling to the side, backward or forward, a condition that can be so severe, the infant may experience difficulty breathing.
Infants or young children who have the type of cerebral palsy known as hypotonic CP have very distinguishing habits. For instance, due to their poor muscle tone some find it difficult to maintain their posture. They prefer to sit leaning against something or lie on the floor and will often sit in a fashion which makes them look lazy. Since it is difficult for them to sit straight, they either sit in a slouching position, or lean on a chair or a table with their head bent over the top of the table. Unlike other children their age who run around when they play, hypotonic CP children take every opportunity to lie down. The reason they are often so tired is because they have to exert much more physical effort to move their hands and legs and this causes them fatigue.
Other hypotonic CP children don’t exhibit these difficulties in arm and leg movements. Instead they are affected in their hips, elbows and knees whose movements is excessive. And yet others can suffer from poor sucking and chewing. If there is a hypotonic CP child in your family you know how difficult (mentally and physically) it can be to help them. But you also know that by helping them help themselves through the proper regimen of self-help exercises, you can mitigate the trouble they will confront in the future. And by so doing you are actually building the one thing your child desperately needs: confidence and self-reassurance.
At every stage of your hypotonic CP child’s physical development, you can perform different exercises which will build up their strength. Wrap your infant in a blanket which will make them feel secure. At the same time you are supporting a good position. If the baby can’t lift its head, lay it on its stomach in a semi reclined position which reduces the effects of gravity and will make it a little easier.
When placing the child in a highchair, create support in the chair itself. Apply a non-skid pad to the child’s bottom to prevent them from slipping through. Place towels or a small pillow as a support if they are leaning to one side. When the child is in a crawling position get them to support their own weight with their hands and arms.
Sitting up can be especially difficult. First, hold them at the ribs to develop strength. Then move to the hips. Make sure that the child is sitting upright, not slouched. As the child improves, decrease the amount of help and try to keep their legs crossed.
To increase the strength in their hands, have them play with clay. This provides very valuable resistance. Crayons provide much more resistance than magic markers. If the child is having difficulty learning to draw and holding a crayon is still too difficult, encourage them to make simple shapes like lines and circles in the sand.