What Are the Latest Advances in Cerebral Palsy Treatment?
When you’re trying to enhance the mobility and quality of life for your child with cerebral palsy, it can be difficult to stay informed of the latest innovations in cerebral palsy treatments and therapies. Cerebral palsy researchers have made some huge advancements in recent years, though, giving us hope for even more scientific breakthroughs in the future. Keep reading to learn more about some of the latest advancements in cerebral palsy treatments.
Self-Initiation Prone Powered Crawler
Crawling is an important part of every child’s early learning and development because it allows them to explore and learn from their environment. Children suffering from disabilities like spina bifida, Down syndrome or cerebral palsy tend to struggle with learning how to crawl. Before now, physical therapists used a device that mimics a skateboard to propel a child where they assumed they would want to go. This method, though well-intentioned, isn’t efficient and can be prone to human error. This happens when the therapist unintentionally misinterprets the child’s intended movement and, as a result, directs them where they didn’t intend to go.
According to Virginia Commonwealth University, infants who may have otherwise struggled to perform the act of crawling on their own could now use the Self-Initiated Prone Progressive Crawler to facilitate their movement. The SIPPC uses input transducers, motors and a controller to sense the child’s intended direction and then gently encourages and assists their movements. It also comes with four modes: passive, active trackball, active forceplate and active accelerometer. In an effort to more effectively guide the infant, the device tracks each move that the child makes, and it adapts to changes in the child’s intended movement. In effect, the device can learn how to better help facilitate the child’s movement.
The device also has certain safety features, such as infrared proximity detectors that sense obstacles and limit the device’s and child’s contact with them, head support, and a padded top surface.
Children who suffer from cerebral palsy often undergo painful and invasive surgeries to improve their ability to move or walk. In some cases, these surgeries can be incredibly successful, while others can result in little to no improvement for the patient. In order to better predict the likelihood of successful aggressive treatments before subjecting the child to surgery, researchers at the University of Washington have collaborated with Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare to develop an assessment called Walk-DMC. Before this, doctors often had to rely on subjective clinical tests and their own personal experience to evaluate motor control in a patient.
The assessment uses electromyography data, which is a commonly employed tool that uses electrodes on the skin to assess the muscle activity in cerebral palsy patients. Data from this tool is combined with information about a patient’s coordinated muscle activity to create algorithms that could assign a single number to describe the complexity of someone’s motor control strategies. The resulting score represents a cerebral palsy patient’s Walk-DMC, or Dynamic Motor Control Index During Walking. Put simply, researchers found a way to measure a patient’s underlying motor control and muscle coordination.
During their research, they found that those with a higher Walk-DMC score before surgery typically had better treatment results. As a result, doctors are able to make a more informed decision when recommending someone for surgery and know when it is beneficial to opt for more conservative treatments.
The Vest app is an incredible new technology that could radically change the lives of cerebral palsy patients and their families. This cloud-based app is a self-proclaimed “special needs navigator,” allowing users to quickly store and access information about the care and needs of the person with cerebral palsy. With the app, you can store all of the most important details about the individual, including information about their:
- Day-to-day needs
- Medical needs
- Family members
- Meal plan
- Emergency and safety protocols
- Strengths and abilities
- Services and programs
Through the Vest app, you can share access to this information with the family and support team and even send them notifications when a significant change occurs. Those with access can then view the app from any device. By keeping these records easily accessible and up to date, you can better prepare others when providing care for your loved one with cerebral palsy.
A University of Arizona College of Medicine student has been developing a robotic exoskeleton designed to help children with cerebral palsy improve their mobility. This fanny pack-powered exoskeleton, worn on the waist, consists of motors and steel cables that are attached to a pulley at children’s ankles. The exoskeleton serves two purposes in service of supporting children with CP.
- An assistive device that can support the body’s muscles and a more natural walking pattern.
- A therapeutic intervention designed not to assist but to provide resistance while children are walking.
In assistive mode, this device makes it easier for children with CP to walk. In its therapeutic mode, it encourages development of muscle memory and strengthens their muscles, which supports training the brain in adapting to a steadier walking pattern.
At the University of Delaware, researchers have developed a motorized device that includes a novel artificial muscle for use by children with cerebral palsy (CP). This brace is the first lower extremity device designed to support mobility using soft, muscle-like “smart materials.” These smart materials, a form of nanotechnology, are known as dielectric elastomer actuators and act just real muscles in response to electrical currents.
Though incredible treatment advances have been made, cerebral palsy can have a huge emotional and financial impact on sufferers and their families. If you think it’s possible that your child’s or loved one’s cerebral palsy is the result of medical malpractice, you may have a case and be eligible for compensation.
The Cerebral Palsy Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC have consulted with over 30,000 families on their cerebral palsy cases across the country. Our years of experience, combined with our legal and medical expertise, enables us to uncover the truth and work to recover the compensation families are entitled to. Contact us today and let us help you and your family seek justice.