Cerebral palsy is a neurological medical disorder that affects movement and coordination. It can cause problems with walking, talking, and learning. Reports state that about one in three children with cerebral palsy cannot walk. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for it, but many treatments are effective.
So what is cerebral palsy, and how can you treat it?
This article will discuss the top treatments for cerebral palsy (CP). It will discuss how you can access these treatments if you or your child has this disorder.
1. Physical Therapy
One of the ways to treat it is to receive physical therapy. A physical therapist can help to improve your range of motion, build muscle strength, and regain any lost function.
There are different physical therapy methods, and your therapist will tailor a treatment plan to your specific needs.
Some of the methods are discussed below:
Constraint-induced movement therapy: It involves constraining the unaffected arm and leg while the child performs repetitive tasks with the affected limb. The primary goal is to help the child learn to use the affected limb more effectively.
Bodyweight–supported treadmill training: This type of therapy involves the child walking on a treadmill while supported by a harness. The therapist can gradually increase the speed and duration of the sessions to help the child build endurance.
Serial casting: Here, the child is placed in a series of plaster casts that gradually stretch the muscles and joints. This method is typically used to improve the range of motion.
If you’re looking for ways to treat the disorder, physical therapy is excellent. A physical therapist can help you improve your range of motion, build muscle strength, and regain any lost function.
2. Occupational Therapy
It is an occupational therapist’s job to help the individual with CP develop skills necessary for everyday life and independent living. Occupational therapists also work with families, caregivers, and other professionals to find ways to make the individual’s home and community environments more accessible and accommodating.
Treatment goals for occupational therapy may include:
- Improving fine motor skills
- Developing age-appropriate play skills
- Improving social skills
- Helping the individual to be as independent as possible in activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, and bathing
Occupational therapy services may be provided in a clinic, school, or community setting. They may also be provided in the home or workplace.
3. Speech Therapy
Communication is a vital aspect of daily life, and children with CP can often benefit from speech therapy. This type of therapy can help improve speech clarity and aid in developing communication skills.
Speech therapy may be recommended for children who have difficulty speaking clearly or cannot produce certain sounds correctly. The therapist will work with the kid to help improve their speech and communication skills.
Some of the treatment methods include:
- Exercises to improve the clarity of speech
- Breathing exercises to help control the rate and volume of speech
- Practicing sounds and words
- Learning alternative communication methods, such as sign language or augmentative communication devices
Often you can analyze the severity of the issue. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to improve muscle function or relieve pain.
The most common type of surgery for it is selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). This procedure involves cutting some spinal cord nerves that send abnormal signals to the muscles. SDR can help reduce spasticity and improve movement.
Other surgeries are:
- Tendon release
- Muscle transfer
- Joint replacement
Each surgery has its risks and benefits, so talk to your child’s doctor about all options.
After surgery, your child will need intense physical and occupational therapy to help them recover and learn how to use their new muscles. Recovery times vary depending on the type of surgery performed.
5. Assistive Technology
Assistive technology is any device that can help a person with CP communicate, learn, or move more quickly. Some common examples include:
- Computers and tablets
- Adaptive switches
- Eye-gaze systems
- Augmentative and alternative communication devices (AAC)
Adaptive switches can activate a computer, wheelchair, or other devices with simple action, like a sip or puff of air. These switches can be mounted on wheelchairs, headrests, armrests, or tables.
Eye-gaze systems use a person’s eye movement to control a computer or communication device. These systems can be used by people who cannot use their hands or voice to communicate.
AAC devices are tools that help people with CP communicate. They can include simple picture boards or more complex devices that allow users to type and talk. AAC devices can be helpful for people who have trouble speaking or understanding speech.
When a child is diagnosed with CP, it’s essential to seek out a comprehensive team of specialists who can work together to create a personalized care plan. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating it, but with the help of an experienced medical team, children with CP can lead fulfilling lives.