Once your child receives a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, it is important to begin both treatment and therapy as soon as possible. Starting intervention at the early stages of the disorder can potentially minimize symptoms and help improve your child’s quality of life. There are many different treatments and therapies used to help children with cerebral palsy, and becoming familiar with them is the first step toward determining which ones may be right for your child.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cerebral Palsy Treatments and Therapies

Q: What is cerebral palsy, and what causes it?
A: Cerebral palsy—or CP for short—is the name of a group of permanent, non-progressive disorders, caused by either abnormal development of the brain or damage to the developing brain. CP is a motor disability, which means the neurological interference from abnormal development or damage impacts a child’s ability to control his or her muscles. Cerebral palsy can result from either abnormal brain development or injury to the brain during pregnancy or at birth. It can take three different forms: spastic CP, dyskinetic or athetoid CP, and ataxic CP.

Q: How is cerebral palsy diagnosed?
A: Generally, a diagnosis follows the observation that your child has not met their developmental milestones at the appropriate times. The process typically begins with your child’s physician or trusted medical professional, and it entails a series of diagnostic tests, such as imaging tests and brain scans, magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalogram, and cranial ultrasound.

Q: How is cerebral palsy treated?
A: There are various treatments and therapies for children with cerebral palsy. They include medication, surgery, traditional therapies, and alternative therapies. Just as every child is different, so are the treatments and therapies needed. Discuss with your child’s medical team your unique needs and circumstances, as well as the various types of treatments and therapies that may be helpful for your child.

Q: What kinds of specialists and medical professionals can help caregivers with cerebral palsy treatments and therapies?
A: Typically, the full treatment of cerebral palsy and management of its symptoms involves a team of different specialists and medical professionals. Your child’s pediatrician will be the main healthcare provider, while their neurologist will help with evaluating brain damage and determining the course of treatment. Your child will likely have physical and occupational therapists as well as behavioral and speech therapists, as necessary. In addition to their medical team, your child may have a team of educational professionals to assist them in and outside of school.

Cerebral Palsy Treatment and Therapy Options in More Detail

While we have provided a relatively comprehensive list of treatments and therapies below, it is only intended to be a brief introduction to the many options offered to help children with CP. We encourage you to talk about the specifics of each with your doctor before beginning any treatment plan. He or she will provide guidance as to which will best address your child’s specific needs.

These are some of the most widely used treatments for children with cerebral palsy:

  • Head Cooling. Children who suffer from a birth injury are given a head cooling treatment immediately after they are born to alleviate possible life-threatening damage, such as CP. It is important to note that head cooling does not specifically indicate a CP diagnosis; it is rather an immediate treatment given to a child who suffers from some type of birth injury. Whenever a birth injury occurs, questions surface as to what caused the injury. While birth injuries occur naturally, they can also be caused by medical negligence or malpractice by the hospital staff. It is highly recommended to get a second opinion of your medical records from trusted, knowledgeable medical personnel. This individual will check your medical records to identify what went wrong in the birthing or delivery process that resulted in the need for head cooling.
  • Cerebral Palsy Medications. Although not all cases of CP require medication, there are many that do. Today, there are multiple types of medications used to help manage a variety of symptoms and conditions including seizures, spasticity, and gastrointestinal issues. These medications may be delivered orally with the help of a feeding tube or through an implanted pump. Learn more about medications for cerebral palsy.
  • Surgery for Cerebral Palsy. Surgical intervention is typically a last resort when medications, therapy, or other interventions fail to have a positive impact. Surgical intervention is utilized to loosen tight muscles and release fixed joints. Surgery can also bring relief to a spasm or help with orthopedic issues such as hip dislocation. Learn about surgery for cerebral palsy.
  • Cerebral Palsy Therapies. The effects of CP on children are as varied as the children themselves. So, too, are the methods for treating those children. Traditional cerebral palsy therapies can include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, or psychotherapy. The more you know before meeting with your child’s doctor, the better prepared you’ll be to determine what treatment is best for your child. Learn about cerebral palsy therapies.
  • Cerebral Palsy Alternative Therapies. Also known as “complementary,” alternative therapies are opening up new ways to treat some children with cerebral palsy. These constantly evolving approaches are often used to support conventional treatment methods. These therapies include hippotherapy, aquatic therapy, music therapy, massage therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, electrical muscle stimulation treatment, and acupuncture, among other non-traditional therapies. Discover alternative cerebral palsy therapies.
  • Stem Cell Therapy. Stem cell therapy is a relatively new treatment offering very promising results in the treatment of cerebral palsy and other brain injuries. For many children, CP is caused by a perinatal central nervous system insult that creates damage to the brain. The goal of stem cell treatment is to enable the brain to repair this damage using stem cells, which hold the natural ability to do so. Learn more about stem cell therapy for cerebral palsy.

If you suspect medical negligence has caused your child’s CP, the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs can help. We have decades of experience helping parties whose CP resulted from errors or medical negligence, and we have consulted with over 30,000 families nationwide. If your child suffered from medical malpractice that led to a CP diagnosis, contact the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs today for a free, no-obligation consultation.



Claire Surles, RN
Reviewed by:
Claire Surles, RN
Registered Nurse

Claire comes to JJS after a 10-year career as a labor and delivery nurse. She dedicated her hospital efforts to advocating for families, providing the safest birthing environment possible as Newborn Admission Nurse at UMMC St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland. Her passion for helping those who experienced losses at any stage of gestation led to her appointment as Coordinator of the hospital’s ROOTS perinatal loss program. READ FULL BIO

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