Treatment for Cerebral Palsy
For people living with cerebral palsy, the right treatment and support can make a huge difference to their wellbeing and quality of life. Understanding what options are available can help to ensure you know what treatment you or your child may benefit from.
In this article, we cover some of the main types of treatment for cerebral palsy that may be available, depending on the needs of the person with the condition. If you are considering making a cerebral palsy compensation claim, this can be a vital step to make sure funding is in place for the very best treatment and support.
Ongoing support from healthcare professionals
A team of medical specialists are likely to be involved in the management of an individual with Cerebral Palsy. Whether or not there is a claim for compensation stemming from sub-standard medical care, it is likely that some of the following medical specialists will be involved in care:
- A Paediatrician to oversee care and treatment to a child.
- A Neurologist to input on the injury to the brain and the treatment this necessitates.
- An Orthopaedic doctor to help provide treatment for the bones and muscle groups.
- Physiotherapists to help exercise and strengthen muscle groups.
- Occupational Therapists to help use aids and equipment.
- Speech Therapists to help improve and maintain good communication and swallowing techniques .
- Special Education Teachers / Professionals to help with educational development.
- A case manager to implement and oversee a bespoke care and therapy regime.
- Assistive technology expert to assist with control aids and computer access
- If appropriate an accommodation expert
Surgical treatment for cerebral palsy
With the input of a range of professionals, it may be that the child undergoes surgery to try and alleviate and improve their condition, for example, to lessen muscle tightness or correct bone abnormalities (scoliosis of the spine, for instance). Two types of operations are often considered:
- Surgery to bones or muscle groups, particularly for children with severe deformities that cause pain and hinder movement. Bones, joints, muscles, and tendons can be shortened or lengthened with the aim of minimising pain and distress and promoting mobility.
- Surgery to nerves such as a selective dorsal rhizotomy. This procedure is used when other treatments have not worked so the nerves are cut to relax the muscle groups and to reduce pain. There are risks of numbness associated with these types of procedures, so they are usually only considered in older children (3-12 years old) on a strict criteria basis.
- Botox treatment to lesson strictures and other muscle tightening
Medication & therapy
Some children may benefit from taking medication to reduce pain and help alleviate tight muscle groups affecting their movement. Paediatricians and medical teams will consider this.
Therapy is particularly important in children with Cerebral Palsy and often results in significant progress, both in terms of physical development and mobility, but also psychological well-being.
There are a number of different therapies. Examples include:
- Physiotherapy to strengthen and stretch muscle groups to help with and improve balance, coordination, flexibility, and mobility. With a very young child, the focus will be on head and trunk control and rolling and collecting objects. As the child gets older, physiotherapy will then likely focus on strength and conditioning for walking and/or wheelchair control.
- Occupational therapy to use technological aids and equipment to help promote independence and work towards full participation at home, school and in the community.
- Speech and language therapy to help a child with limited muscle group control improve their ability to communicate with their family and peers. If spoken speech is not possible, focus will instead be directed at utilising computers and /or voice synthesisers.
- Recreational therapy such as horse-riding or art therapy to help a child’s motor skills (fine and gross), speech and language and crucially their emotional wellbeing.