Although cerebral palsy cannot be cured, there are various treatments and therapies that can help alleviate and improve some of its symptoms. In addition to medical and surgical options, traditional therapy options include physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, and various cognitive and behavioral therapies. Depending on your child’s needs, these therapies can help improve the symptoms of cerebral palsy and your child’s overall quality of life.

What are the Treatment Goals in Cerebral Palsy Therapy?

The goals of your child’s treatment plan should reflect your child’s unique symptoms, circumstances, and needs. Some goals may be short-term, such as pain management, while others may be long-term, such as building key communication and interpersonal skills. Ideally, the treatment plan should be created as early as possible in consultation with your child’s team of specialists, and it should be revisited regularly in order to ensure the goals set out in your child’s plan are being met.

While the goals set out in your child’s care plan will need to be unique to your child, there are some goals that tend to be universal in the treatment and therapy of children with cerebral palsy. These include:

  • Managing primary conditions and symptoms
  • Managing pain
  • Optimizing mobility
  • Maximizing communication
  • Optimizing social interactions
  • Promoting life skills
  • Providing important options for exercise
  • Maximizing self-sufficiency
  • Increasing well-being and overall quality of life

What are Some Common Cerebral Palsy Therapies?

Cerebral palsy therapies can help alleviate symptoms, relieve pain, increase mobility, and improve your child’s overall quality of life. The following are some of the main types of therapy used to help children with cerebral palsy:

  • Physical Therapy. Physical therapy is known as the cornerstone for cerebral palsy treatment, used to rehabilitate muscles and the musculoskeletal system. Physical therapy typically begins in the first few years of life, or soon after the diagnosis is made. This specific form of therapy utilizes a variety of equipment and exercises to improve a patient’s mobility. There is no standard therapy that works for every individual case affected by cerebral palsy. Physical therapy programs use specific sets of exercises specifically catered to each patient’s needs. There are two main goals associated with this type of therapy. The first includes preventing disuse atrophy, meaning the weakening or deterioration of muscles that are not being used. The other main goal is to prevent contracture, which happens when the muscles become fixed in a rigid, abnormal position. Early detection and management of muscular problems are crucial in early childhood development.
  • Speech Therapy. Speech therapy is defined as the treatment of communication disorders. Those that work in the field of communication disorders are known as speech therapists and speech-language pathologists. Therapy sessions may consist of a series of exercises and drills designed to strengthen the muscles involved in speech and swallowing, constantly improving oral motor skills. Speech therapy may also include sign language and the use of picture symbols or augmented and alternative communication devices.
  • Occupational Therapy. Occupational therapy and rehabilitation deal primarily with muscles responsible for the following; wrist, hand, and finger movements, facial expressions, tongue movement, and swallowing reflexes. Occupational therapists are trained to help patients acquire or improve daily living skills needed for self-care, work, and play. Occupational therapy uses a regiment of exercises, adaptive equipment, and training to help a child realize goals and independence.
  • Psychotherapy. Also referred to as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy can improve behavioral issues, provide encouragement, improve self-esteem, reinforce positive messages and stop negative behaviors. Therapists sit down with both you and your child to explain the situation and offer potential coping skills.
  • Play and Social Therapy. Play therapy is a therapeutic and psychological intervention that uses play to help children with cerebral palsy develop interaction and self-confidence. It can use directed or undirected play techniques and take place in a variety of settings. Play therapy can help better assess a child’s emotional, cognitive, and psychological condition and promote well-being.
  • Behavior Therapy. Behavior therapy, also known as cognitive behavioral therapy, helps children with cerebral palsy identify and explore challenging emotions and situations. The goal of behavior therapy is ultimately to allow the child to respond to those challenging situations and emotions in a more effective and acceptable way.
  • Alternative Therapies for Cerebral Palsy. For many children with cerebral palsy, alternative or complementary therapies and medicines can be very helpful. These therapies include hippotherapy, aquatic therapy, music therapy, massage therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, electrical muscle stimulation treatment, and acupuncture, among other non-traditional therapies.

What are Some Recent Innovations in Cerebral Palsy Therapy and Treatment?

Technological and scientific advancements have provided various recent innovations in therapies for cerebral palsy. They include:

  • The Robotic Crawler facilitates children with performing the movement of crawling where they otherwise have struggled to crawl
  • The Eye Gaze allows children to use their eyes to communicate and perform various other tasks
  • The Vest app, a “special needs navigator,” allows users to quickly store and access information about the care and needs of a person with cerebral palsy
  • The Brain Imaging Cap gives participants a more accessible way to give researchers information about brain activity

These innovations, and many others that are underway, may help improve the lives of children with CP. Innovations aside, however, cerebral palsy still creates a huge emotional and financial impact on sufferers and their families. If you believe that your child’s or loved one’s cerebral palsy is potentially the result of medical malpractice, you may have a claim and be eligible for compensation.

The Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs have consulted with over 30,000 families on their cerebral palsy cases across the country. Our years of experience, legal and medical expertise, and deep understanding of cerebral palsy and its effects enable us to uncover the truth and work to recover fair compensation for families. Contact us today and let us help you and your family seek justice.

Was Your Child's CP Preventable?