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Cerebral Palsy Treatment - Medical Negligence Solicitors Compensation |

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Cerebral palsy treatment can and does take many different forms which have varying degrees of success however there is nothing that can be done to repair the irreversible brain damage that causes the condition. There are different therapies available to help better manage and control physical and mental disability however this so called cerebral palsy treatment not repair the underlying condition which is sadly permanent:-

  • Physical Therapy
    which relates to improving the development of the muscles in the legs, arms and abdomen to assist in improving movement and balance and to stimulate play skills which may include running and throwing, or learning to ride a bike or the use of other play equipment. Therapy normally starts as soon as a diagnosis is made to help prevent contractures and is used in certain other situations to improve motor development.

  • Occupational Therapy
    attempts to improve the control and motion of the small muscles of the body including the hands, feet, face, fingers and toes which will improve daily living and play skills. Occupational therapists also recommend special equipment to make everyday jobs easier.

  • Speech and Language Therapy
    develops better control of the muscles around the mouth and jaw, which can improve speech, language skills and eating abilities. Therapist also work on communication skills for those who are unable to speak.

  • Surgery
    may be used as part of cerebral palsy treatment in appropriate circumstances to alter muscle or nerve structure in order to reduce contractures.

  • Drug Therapy
    can form a central part of treatment and may include :-

    • antispasmodics to reduce spasms
    • tranquilisers to relax muscles
    • anticonvulsant medication to control seizures
    • specific medication to reduce abnormal movement

Cerebral Palsy Treatment - Overview

Cerebral palsy is a brain injury that results in deficits primarily in the motor skills of the afflicted individual but it can also cause problems in the way the child thinks and speaks. Even the other senses of touch, taste, smell and hearing can be impaired, depending on where the brain is injured.

While there is no accepted cure for cerebral palsy, it can be treated with various types of therapeutic techniques. These techniques should be started as soon as the child is diagnosed with the disease and should be continued for as long as they continue to be helpful. Often the child is exposed to many different types of therapy to manage the different problems the child may have.

Kids with CP often have behavioural or emotional problems that get better if they have behavioural therapy or counselling. These use psychological techniques that help improve communication skills and mental abilities. Techniques are used that block destructive behaviour and lean the child toward becoming self sufficient. The behavioral therapist will become a sort of coach for the entire family so that behaviour is improved. Behavioural therapy, for this reason, is often done in the home setting. It can use positive reinforcement to overcome problems with speech, maximize limb use, and stop negative problems like biting and hair pulling.

Braces, also called "orthoses" are commonly used in the management of cerebral palsy. Braces help straighten out limbs that have a tendency to hyper-flex their joints. There are braces available for the legs, back, ankles, elbows, feet, and hands. There is a brace called a Harrington rod, which is effective in the management of hemiplegic ("half the body paralysed") legs, knees, hips, wrists and scoliosis.

Braces can be made from leather, metal or plastic, and many are made from a combination of these materials. An orthotist is a specialist in designing and making custom braces for the child with cerebral palsy. They attempt to make sure that the brace is functional without damaging the integrity of the skin. Kids with cerebral palsy often outgrow their braces and need to be fitted with new braces. The orthotist will teach the family how to clean the braces, care for the skin and look for any problems with the braces.

One of the more common braces used in cerebral palsy is called and AFO or ankle foot orthosis. These orthoses stretch out the Achilles tendon so that the foot doesn't bend downward. It helps children maximize their chances of walking and they can be worn just during the day or round the clock. Kids with CP can have adjustment difficulties when using their braces for the first several months of using the brace. After that, the Achilles tendon is properly stretched out and the brace doesn't hurt as much.

Another brace commonly used is the elbow brace that prevents elbow contractures. Without an elbow brace, the elbow can become so flexed that the parent can't even clean in the creases of the elbows. The brace keeps the elbow as straight as possible so that it can be more functional.

Drug therapy may be helpful in treating patients with cerebral palsy. For example, patients with CP often have stiffening of their arms and legs. They get better with antispasmodic medications that loosen muscles. The patient may also suffer from seizures and will get better with anti-seizure medication. These can block unnatural electrical activity in the brain. Because the body develops a tolerance to the medication, the dose will need to be increased over time. Careful attention must be made to avoid overdosing the patient or causing bad side effects. Kids need more regular and higher doses than do adults because they have a higher metabolic activity than adults do.

Drugs for cerebral palsy can include sleeping aids and medications to reduce constipation, which is common due to the relative inactivity of these kids. They can also suffer from anxiety, which can be made better with anxiolytic medication, many of which also relax muscles.

Physical therapy is an important part of cerebral palsy treatment. The physical therapy is designed to improve mobility, improve range of motion and improve coordination, so that the patient can be more ambulatory and can avoid contractures and unwanted movements like tremors.

Physical therapists focus more on the legs than on the arms. They tend to focus on things like leg braces, using crutches or walkers and being able to walk. Physical therapy can begin with stretching exercises, the fitting of braces and finally to learning to walk with assistive devices. Exercises will be taught to parents so that they can be practiced at home on a daily basis. It is the job of the physical therapist to be supportive to the family as they attempt to keep some functionality in the patient's repertoire.

Physical therapy can overlap with occupational therapy; however, occupational therapy tends to focus more on the hands and arms, and teaches more small motor skills than physical therapy. Occupational therapy is second only to physical therapy in importance when treating cerebral therapy. They work with the hands, feet, mouth, toes and fingers. The occupational therapist works with dressing skills, feeding skills and overall mobility. They design modified spoons and cups for the disabled child and they help with designing specialized seating, push chairs and wheelchairs for the affected child. They work with improving posture so the child can use his or her hands and feet more easily. The occupational therapist also looks at accessibility so the environment can be designed for the maximum functionality of the disabled child.

Speech and language therapy is also important in the management of cerebral palsy. Many of these patients have speech that is difficult to understand or perhaps no speech at all. They may have difficulty with swallowing food and handling their own secretions. The speech therapist can help the child learn to swallow more cohesively so that they don't choke on food and can eat solid foods. Without speech therapy, kids may need to have a tube placed from their skin to their stomach and be feed liquid food only.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here