What is Decerebrate Posturing
A symptom of Tay-Sachs is abnormal posturing and is something which becomes apparent as the disease progresses. When it occurs the doctor will probably say that “your child is posturing” when their arms and legs become stiff. It looks like they are stretching out all their muscles (as many of us do in the morning in bed) – the difference is that they will stay in this position longer than you or I would.
The posturing which occurs in a Tay-Sachs individual is called decerebrate posturing – there is another type called decorticate posturing. We have tried to put an explanation together which is easier to understand than the medical version.
“Decerebrate posturing is also called decerebrate response, decerebrate rigidity, or extensor posturing. It describes the involuntary extension of the upper extremities in response to external stimuli. In decerebrate posturing, the head is arched back, the arms are extended by the sides, the legs are extended and the elbows are extended. The arms and legs extended and rotated internally where the patient is rigid, with the teeth clenched. The signs can be on just one or the other side of the body or on both sides, and it may be just in the arms and may be intermittent.”
The above is describing what it looks like when someone is has decerebrate posturing. It may look similar to how you stretch your body out in the morning and it can last for long or short periods.
Why does decerebrate posturing occur
This form of posturing is an unfortunate symptom of Tay-Sachs and occurs due to damage of the nervous system caused by the disease. You should make the individual comfortable and if the posturing continues for a prolonged period of time then you should seek medical advice.