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Physical therapy interventions for cerebral palsy

Author: Marilyn Jackson
by Marilyn Jackson
Posted: Jun 19, 2021
cerebral palsy

Cerebral refers to the brain and palsy means weakness or trouble with using muscles. A cerebral palsy is a group of disorders of muscle tone, movement, balance and posture. It is one of the most common motor disabilities in childhood. Physical therapy is the first line of treatment in cerebral palsy. The effects of physical therapy are dependent on the severity and the type of cerebral palsy. Parents must look for a physical therapist who is experienced in treating children with cerebral palsy. It is because physical therapists who are experienced in treating children with cerebral palsy will understand the requirements of these children and design an individualized treatment plan for them.

Let us delve deeper into cerebral palsy and the physical therapy treatment for it.

1. Introduction to cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy is a common condition that can last for years and even be lifelong. Abnormal brain development or an injury to the brain can result in cerebral palsy. Due to the damage to the brain, the part of the brain that controls the body movement, coordination and posture is affected. This brain damage typically occurs during birth but it can also occur after birth or during the first years of life. Many times, the exact cause of cerebral palsy is unknown.

Some of the possible causes of cerebral palsy are:

  • Lack of oxygen to the brain during labour and delivery.

  • Gene mutation from abnormal brain development.

  • Severe jaundice in the infant

  • Maternal infections like German measles and herpes simplex.

  • Infection in the brain such as meningitis and encephalitis.

  • Intracranial haemorrhage or bleeding in the brain.

  • Head injury from a car accident, fall or child abuse.

It can thereby impair a child’s mobility. Contact your physical therapist if your child is suffering from cerebral palsy so that your child can enjoy the benefits of physical therapy.

2. Signs and symptoms of cerebral palsy

The symptoms of cerebral palsy vary from person to person. It also depends on the part of the brain which is affected. Some people have trouble grasping while some have difficulty walking or sitting. The symptoms can become more severe or less severe as time passes. Some of the common symptoms of cerebral palsy include the following.

  • Delay in movements such as crawling, sitting up alone and rolling over.

  • Variation in muscle tone

  • Delay in speech development and talking.

  • Stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes.

  • Lack of muscle coordination

  • Involuntary movements.

  • Excessive drooling and trouble with swallowing.

  • Difficulty in walking

  • Neurological problems such as seizures, intellectual disabilities and blindness

To tackle these symptoms, physical therapy is needed. The physical therapist will guide the child in implementing strength and flexibility exercises and provide heat treatment, massages, and certain equipment to enhance the independence of the child.

3.Physical therapy for cerebral palsy

There are a plethora of benefits of physical therapy for cerebral palsy. It aids in boosting mobility and prevents any future complications such as contractures and joint dislocations by keeping the body tough and flexible.

With the help of a physical therapist, your child can improve the following.

  • Coordination

  • Balance

  • Strength

  • Flexibility

  • Endurance

  • Pain management

  • Posture

  • Gait

  • Overall health

Benefits for different types of cerebral palsy include the following.

  • Spastic: People affected by spastic cerebral palsy experience jerky movements and muscle tension. Physical therapy can help reduce that. Stretching and other such exercises can help in decreasing stiffness over time.

  • Athetoid: Physical therapy can help people with athetoid cerebral palsy by increasing muscle tone and gaining more control over the movements.

  • Ataxic: Physical therapy exercises can help in improving balance problems that people with ataxic cerebral palsy suffer from.

Physical therapists help tailor specific treatment based on the location of movement issues. Movement difficulties can be limited to one half of the body called hemiplegia, the legs called diplegia, or in the torso or four limbs called quadriplegia. Physical therapists will devise special exercises and routines for these conditions and help the child move again in the affected areas.

  • Exercises for cerebral palsy

The physical therapy exercises for cerebral palsy are majorly aimed at treating either high or low muscle tone. High muscle tone results in stiffness and spasticity while low muscle tone results in too much flexibility and weakness.

  • Assisting posture and walking

Many physical therapy exercises focus on helping with walking, posture, transitional movements and sensory impairments like touch and balance. The physical therapist also prescribes posture improving exercises that emphasize sitting, kneeling and standing.

  • Equipment

The href="">physical therapist also prescribes the use of mobility aids to provide effective treatment to the children. Some of that equipment are brace, cast, splints and shoe inserts. This orthotic equipment help in walking, posture and joint mobility.

About the Author

I am a freelance web content writer helping solopreneurs and small businesses build their online presence through friendly, long-form and shareable blog posts. She has expertise in writing about the healthcare industry for many years.

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Author: Marilyn Jackson

Marilyn Jackson

Member since: Jun 11, 2021
Published articles: 1

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