Can a Child Recover from Brain Damage?
Cerebral palsy can result if a baby’s cerebral motor cortex does not develop normally during fetal growth, or if the child experiences a brain injury before, during, or after birth. Though this brain damage cannot be repaired, various treatment options can sometimes improve a child’s capability and prognosis. Generally speaking, the earlier treatment begins, the better. With treatment, children can often learn strategies to accomplish challenging physical tasks or to overcome developmental disabilities.
Treatments for Cerebral Palsy Brain Damage
There is no one-size-fits-all therapy and treatment plan for every child with cerebral palsy. You can take certain steps to begin the process:
- First, a doctor must make a diagnosis.
- The diagnosis should determine the type of cerebral palsy.
- Healthcare professionals and parents should work together to identify specific impairments and needs the child has.
- Together, healthcare professionals and parents can develop a plan to work with the core disabilities affecting the child’s quality of life.
There are various treatments available for children with this type of brain damage. Though cerebral palsy cannot be cured, treatments have been shown to significantly improve the quality of life for many children. Possible treatments and therapies include:
Physical therapy typically starts in the first few years of a child’s life, or as soon as possible once a child has a diagnosis. This type of therapy is an integral component of treatment for cerebral palsy. Aspects of physical therapy may include:
- Exercises: Resistive and/or strength training programs.
- Activities: To improve and/or maintain balance, muscle strength, motor skills, and to prevent contractures.
- Orthotic devices: Special braces may improve mobility and/or stretch spastic muscles.
These therapies may help a child gain increased mobility and muscle control.
This type of therapy focuses on:
- Improving posture
- Optimizing upper body function
- Optimizing a child’s mobility
Occupational therapy may address helping a child meet their everyday needs and activities, including:
- Getting dressed
- Going to school
Speech and Language Therapy
Speech and language therapy may:
- Improve a child’s ability to speak or speak more clearly
- Assist with swallowing disorders
Speech and language therapy may also work on different ways of helping a child communicate:
- Using sign language.
- Using a computer with a voice synthesizer.
- Using a board that includes symbols of everyday objects and activities; the child can point to the symbol that indicates what they wish to do.
A speech and language therapist may use a combination of these strategies to best help your child to improve their swallowing and speech abilities. These therapies also aid in a child’s overall recovery by giving them alternate tools to use if typical speech is not possible.
Recreation therapy may help improve your child’s self-esteem and emotional well-being and even help their speech. Recreation therapy programs include participation in:
- Cultural programs
Doctors may prescribe medications to relax your child’s muscles. Children who have cerebral palsy often experience stiff, overactive, or contracted muscles. Drug treatments may include:
- Oral medications: Used as a first treatment for children with widespread spasticity or who need only a mild reduction in muscle tone.
- Botulinum toxin (BT-A), injected locally: Keeps nerve cells from over-activating in order to relax contracted muscles. This is typically followed by physical therapy and stretching.
- Intrathecal baclofen therapy, using an implantable pump: This treatment delivers the muscle relaxant baclofen into the fluid around a child’s spinal cord, and it is typically used for children with uncontrolled muscle movement throughout their body or severe, chronic stiffness.
Various devices can help children with cerebral palsy to communicate. Other devices support independent mobility.
Devices that help with communication skills include:
- Picture books
- Voice synthesizers
- Computer and computer software
Devices that help with walking, sitting, and other mobility functions include:
- Orthotic devices that compensate for muscle imbalance, help stretch muscles or help a joint’s positioning
- Braces or splints to correct muscle abnormalities and improve walking or sitting abilities
- Special chairs to help a child sit more comfortably
Tools that help with vision include:
- Large-print books
- Large-print computer typeface
Devices that help children hear more clearly include:
- Hearing aids
- Telephone amplifiers
Children who are not independently mobile may use:
- Powered scooters
Though not a cure, these tools have helped many children achieve independent mobility.
When Should I Start Treatment for My Child?
You can help your child access treatments and therapies for cerebral palsy right after they are born. Early intervention services are available for babies and toddlers, as well as services for school-aged children between the ages of 3 and 21. Services for your child may be available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Though there is no cure for the brain damage associated with cerebral palsy, many treatments and therapies can help your child live a full life. If you suspect that your child’s cerebral palsy may have been due to medical negligence or if you have legal questions, the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC can help. We have over 40 years of experience helping families across the country, and our legal/medical experts can help you uncover the truth to seek financial compensation. Contact us today and let us help you and your family get the answers you need and deserve.