- Disabilities & the Disabled
Cerebral Palsy Therapy & Treatment
Cerebral palsy is generally classified as any number of specific conditions that inhibit balance, mobility and posture in people who suffer from it. It is caused by many different factors, all of which relate to brain damage sustained before, during, or shortly after childbirth.
Cerebral palsy is not viral or contagious, and cannot be spread from one person to the next. Some children who develop this disorder may overcome it naturally in time. Most don't, and they carry it with them for the remainder of their lives.
This condition cannot be cured theoretically, but it can be treated. And the sooner cerebral palsy treatment begins, the quicker the rehabilitation process can begin.
Seeking therapy for cerebral palsy will require a great investment of time, money and commitment from everyone involved. It is, quite possibly, the only way for a person with the disorder to have a chance at becoming a functioning, independent participant in society.
The objective of this Hub is to reveal and detail some of the most common forms of therapy and treatment for cerebral palsy, as well as divulge additional information regarding its symptoms and causes.
Table of Contents
Identifying Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is separated into four main classifications: spastic, athetoid, ataxic, or mixed. Here are the symptoms, along with percentages of people who are affected:
Spastic Cerebral Palsy (~50-75%) - Characterized by difficult movement and stiff / contracted muscles.
Athetoid [Dyskinetic] Cerebral Palsy (~10-20%) - Mostly slow, uncontrolled movements.
Ataxic Cerebral Palsy (~5-10%) - Distorted sense of balance, depth perception and coordination.
Mixed Cerebral Palsy (~10%) Occurs when multiple types are evident.
Identifying the type of cerebral palsy will help determine what kind of treatment will be most effective. Many of the symptoms of the disorder are characterized by muscle control, balance and mobility, which are simple enough to diagnose.
If you notice someone having difficulty with walking upright, maintaining balance, using utensils or other common body motions, it may be an indicator of cerebral palsy. Some symptoms are as severe as seizures or mental retardation.
If you suspect a child / person may have CP, take them to a pediatrician or physician to know for sure. In the event that it is indeed cerebral palsy, and severe enough to warrant treatment, you will want to consult the same pediatrician / physician about what kind of therapy to pursue.
Types of Cerebral Palsy Therapy
Physical therapy is geared toward improving balance and mobility. The two main objectives of physical therapy are to prevent muscle degredation from lack of use, and to prevent limbs and muscles from becoming fixed in abnormal positions.
This inlcludes teaching children how to walk, use stairs, operate wheelchairs, and also how to run, kick, and even how to ride a bicycle. This kind of cerebral palsy treatment is typically the first to be implemented in the therapy process. As the patient matures, the therapy will likewise change to help prepare the person for school and funtioning in the real world.
Behavioral / Psychotherapy
Behavioral / Psychotherapy uses psychology to encourage muscle and motor development and reinforce positive habits in the patient. It is often used in conjunction with other types of cerebral palsy treatment such as physical or speech / language therapy.
One use of this type of therapy is as a reward system to keep those in it motivated to overcome obstacles. Another use of this therapy is to discourage bad behavior and habits through similar means.
Occupational therapy focuses on the growth and development of the body's smaller muscles like the face, hands and toes. It also helps teach cerebral palsy patients how to properly operate eating utensils and other small instruments like pens and pencils. In addition, daily living skills like dressing, tieing shoes and eating are taught and fostered.
Speech / Language Therapy
Some people affected by cerebral palsy have trouble pronouncing words, or are prone to drooling due to a lack of jaw control.
Speech / language therapy is not only designed to help build communication skills, it can also improve basic eating abilities such as swallowing and help prevent drooling. If the patient is unable to speak, undergoing speech therapy could mean learning how to communicate using sign language, or finding specialized equipment to make communication possible.
Drug therapy involves taking prescribed medicine to control / prevent seizures, control spasticity following surgery, or to reduce abnormal muscle movements. In regards to seizures, the patient may be given several different types of medication to combat the different types. As of now, there aren't any drugs that can eliminate cerebral palsy, it can only be controlled.
The earlier cerebral palsy therapy begins, the sooner the results can take place. Like similar incurable conditions, treatment will require a great commitment of time, money and most importantly, support. Since the person undergoing therapy will likely be someone close, the best way to encourage rehabilitation is to provide emotional support and to get involved. Emotional support and encouragement can do what do medicine or exercise regiment can, and that is provide hope.
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