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Many treatments are available for cerebral palsy (CP) patients. The following is some brief information about some different treatment options.
Physical Therapy (PT)
Physical therapy should begin soon after a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Physical therapists help children to use and develop the body’s large muscles, including muscles in the:
In this case, physical therapy helps the child to use gross motor skills by teaching him or her how to find better methods to achieve movement and balance. Physical therapy may help children with cerebral palsy learn to use a wheel chair, walk, or go up and down stairs. A therapist can also help children work on other motor skills such as throwing a ball, kicking, running, or riding a tricycle or bicycle.
Physical therapy is designed to help a child with cerebral palsy exercise in order to prevent complications in the muscles or skeletal systems, such as weakness from not using the muscles enough, or contractures, which happen when the muscles become stiff or rigid in unnatural positions.
Occupational Therapy (OT)
Occupational therapy is aimed at improving small muscle movement, including muscles in the:
Occupational therapy also teaches certain skills needed for daily living, such as eating, dressing, and being certain the child is seated properly in the wheelchair. This method is used also to teach children other small muscle skills, including drawing, writing, coloring, painting, using scissors, or brushing teeth. It also is the job of the occupational therapist to find special equipment to accommodate the child’s needs.
Speech and Language Therapy
Speech and language therapists help develop the muscles of the mouth and jaw. This can make a difference in the child’s speech, language, and eating. For children who cannot speak, they teach skills such as sign language or using aids to communicate such as computers.
Some drugs are used to prevent seizures or reduce spasticity. Different drugs are available to treat different types of problems. The long-term benefit of some of these drugs is still being studied.
Surgery can be used to improve development of the muscles, improve contractures and diminish spasticity. It is common for children with cerebral palsy to walk on their toes. This often is due to a tight heel cord. After trying splints or braces, surgery may be used to help correct this condition. Surgery also can be used to treat spasticity in the legs or hips. This type of surgery involves operating on nerves behind the spinal column and is still being studied.
Sensory Integration Therapy
This type of therapy helps children to process sensory information and learn sequences of movement. Such treatment eventually helps balance and steady movement. Treatment involves stimulating body sensations in different areas of the body, using tools such as Styrofoam chips, water, or toys that have texture.
This includes walkers, wheelchairs, forks and spoons with special handles, crayons with special grips, and communication aids such as books or posters with pictures, and alphabet boards.
Legal Resources for Parents
Treatments will vary from child to child and will be based on each child’s specific needs. Many treatments are expensive and require special equipment or weekly visits to therapy. If you are a parent of a child that has cerebral palsy, call 1-866-479-7909 to speak with a qualified birth injury lawyer.
You and your child might be eligible for financial compensation if their cerebral palsy can be linked to a medical mistake before, during or after birth. Financial compensation can help pay for expensive treatments, both today and in the future.
What Tests Do Doctors Use to Diagnose Cerebral Palsy?
Doctors primarily use four types of imaging tests to examine children’s brains for signs of cerebral palsy and assess the severity of a child’s condition. These are:
- Computed Tomography (CT) Scans
- Cranial Ultrasounds
- Electroencephalograms (RRG)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans
In addition to performing these tests, doctors may also test for signs of hearing, visual, speech, and cognitive impairments. Testing for these impairments can assist with determining a child’s treatment needs. In some cases, doctors may also perform blood testing in order to rule out other potential diagnoses—including hereditary conditions that can impact children’s motor function similar to CP.
What Questions Should I Ask My Child’s Doctor about Cerebral Palsy?
If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you should feel free to ask your child’s doctor as many questions as you want. However, coping with CP is a lifelong process, and parents need to prepare themselves as best they can. Some examples of questions you may want to ask about your child’s treatment for CP include:
- How will my child’s condition affect their intellectual abilities?
- What types of therapy will my child need now and in the future?
- What types of adaptive equipment will be helpful for my child?
- What additional symptoms might I begin to notice as my child grows?
When Should a Child Begin Receiving Treatment for Cerebral Palsy?
Generally speaking, a child should begin receiving treatment for cerebral palsy promptly after being diagnosed. Beginning physical and cognitive therapies early can help mitigate the effects of a child’s CP to the greatest extent possible. In addition, doctors should recommend appropriate treatment upon making a diagnosis. For children diagnosed in infancy or as toddlers, careful monitoring will be necessary to gain a thorough understanding of the child’s needs as the effects of their diagnosis become evident over time.
Does Cerebral Palsy Ever Go Away?
No, cerebral palsy does not go away. Treatment for CP focuses on managing the child’s symptoms and providing appropriate therapy so that the child can learn to cope with the effects of their condition as effectively as possible.
Can My Child Live a Normal Life with Cerebral Palsy?
Whether a person can live a normal life with cerebral palsy depends in large part on the severity of their condition. Many individuals who are diagnosed with CP as children are able to live happy, fulfilling, and productive lives well into adulthood. However, life can present many challenges for individuals
Call our experienced team to schedule confidential evaluation of your case. Our Connecticut cerebral palsy lawyers are dedicated to helping affected children and their parents seek and obtain justice.