Cerebral palsy is a neurological condition that affects body movement. “Cerebral” refers to the brain and “palsy” refers to the impairment of motor function. While there is currently no cure for cerebral palsy, there are a number of therapy and other treatments that can improve the lives of adults or children with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy differs in type and severity, which means it can present differently from one person to another. It is important to develop an individualised therapy plan to work on the specific challenges that are limiting function and quality of life for each person. Here’s a quick overview of cerebral palsy therapies offered at NAPA:
There are also a variety of new treatment modalities, surgeries and medications available to better meet each child’s needs. At the Neurological and Physical Abilitation Centre (NAPA), we use intensive therapy and new treatment approaches such as the NeuroSuit, SpiderCage, CME (Cuevas Medek Exercise), and DMI (Dynamic Movement Intervention) to enhance our children’s progress in meeting their goals.
If you are currently considering different treatment options for your child, consider joining this NAPA parent group to connect with other parents of children with disabilities and hear more about their experiences.
Physiotherapy treatment for cerebral palsy is vital in helping children achieve new developmental milestones. Physiotherapy can help your child control their movements better, with improved balance. Physiotherapists can help your child work towards improving their independence and mobility in a variety of areas. For instance, physiotherapists utilise a variety of methods to work on decreasing the effects of hypertonia to help the child work on strengthening their muscles and improving their balance and motor planning skills. Additionally, physiotherapists can help devise a specialised home exercise program based on your child’s specific needs.
Lastly, physiotherapy might focus on increasing balance and walking with adaptive devices and orthotics. Many physiotherapists will also use orthotics, which are devices used to train your child’s major muscle groups. These devices can include splints, braces, or casts to support your child’s movement and encourage proper growth and improvement. It is recommended that you begin your child’s physiotherapy as soon as possible.
Occupational therapy may focus on improving upper body function, posture and coordination to participate in day-to-day activities. With cerebral palsy, everyday tasks such as brushing teeth, writing, using scissors, and getting dressed can become very difficult. An occupational therapist can assist your child by evaluating your child’s fine motor skills and developing a specific treatment plan. The treatment will usually focus on “positioning, reaching, grasping, and releasing.” This is all in an effort to improve your child’s daily tasks both at home and at school. Additionally, NAPA occupational therapists can implement sensory integration therapy for cerebral palsy if needed.
Cerebral palsy can affect parts of the brain and muscles in a child’s mouth that permit speech. Thus, many children with this disability have trouble speaking. Speech therapy can address different ways of communicating and address swallowing impairments. The role of the speech therapist is to gradually improve your child’s ability to form words and speak clearly. If speech isn’t possible, they can teach your child different means of communication, such as AAC or sign language. Moreover, children with cerebral palsy may have the tendency to drool or face difficulty when trying to eat. Speech therapy can help your child gain control over these muscles to slowly alleviate these issues.
Doctors may prescribe various forms of medication to patients with cerebral palsy who are experiencing conditions like muscle spasms. The medication will relax the child’s muscles and allow movement to become easier and more controlled. Other medications can treat secondary conditions caused by cerebral palsy, such as seizures and acid reflux.
Sometimes, surgery is the best option to improve your child’s condition. This is most commonly prescribed for patients with spastic cerebral palsy because it can correct areas with increased muscle tone. One such procedure is getting muscles or tendons lengthened. Doing so allows for less restricted movement.
There is the beginning of more research into other therapies such as aquatic therapy and hippotherapy (horse riding). We highly recommend talking to your weekly therapist or MD about the possibility of these programs before starting one to make sure it is medically safe and appropriate for your child. There are other medical options for kids to help manage cerebral palsy from muscle relaxants to procedures such as Botox and while we can help provide some options and talk about those options on a case-by-case basis, this is definitely a topic that your medical doctor is the expert of and we highly recommend talking to them first.
At NAPA Centre, we offer multidisciplinary treatments integrating physio, occupational, speech, and feeding therapy for children with cerebral palsy. NAPA was built on the love that parents have for their children; founded in 2008 by a mother who dedicated her life to finding the best therapies for her son with cerebral palsy. Now, NAPA is a leader in pediatric therapy, offering the best and most innovative tools and methods from around the world. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customised program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.