Most cases of cerebral palsy result from a brain injury during pregnancy or birth, or in the months following birth. With treatment, many children suffering from cerebral palsy can significantly reduce their symptoms and improve their independence. Although no cure exists, cerebral palsy treatment, including physical therapy, surgery and speech therapy, is available.
Treatment Plans for Cerebral Palsy
A group of medical professionals will develop an individualized course of treatment based on the severity of the birth injury. It is important to incorporate the opinions of the child, parents, caregivers and teachers when deciding on a course of action. The individualized treatment plan will consider the immediate needs of the child, as well as the long term prognosis for growth and development. Because a child’s brain and nervous system takes years to fully develop, they may heal themselves to a certain extent. In some cases, the initial symptoms of cerebral palsy in milder cases will get better with time and proper treatment.
In a healthy child, muscles and tendons will grow at the same rate as bones. In children with cerebral palsy, muscle development will not keep pace with bone growth because of contracture or spasticity. Physical therapy for cerebral palsy can help ease the effects of poor muscle development. Physical therapy can include:
- Daily motion exercises that help with muscle development and prevent limbs from becoming weak or stiff
- Stretches that can help the patient’s motor skills
- Braces and walkers to control limbs and positioning
- Teaching the child to dress, sit and use the bathroom
Speech Therapy and Medications
In addition to physical therapy, patients may also need speech therapy for cerebral palsy. In some patients, lack of facial control can lead to drooling and eating difficulties. Speech therapy for cerebral palsy may be able to correct these problems. In addition, athetoid cerebral palsy patients can benefit from speech therapy, which can improve pronunciation.
Medications can also improve spasms and seizures in children with cerebral palsy. As with other forms of drug therapy for cerebral palsy, it may take time to discover which medicines deliver optimal results. Medicines used in treating cerebral palsy include:
- Antispasmodics, which reduce muscle spasms and relax stiff muscles
- Anticonvulsants to reduce seizures
- Anticholinergics to inhibit the effects of a brain chemical that triggers muscle contractions
Additional Treatments for Cerebral Palsy
Other treatments for cerebral palsy patients include:
Psychotherapy: Children with cerebral palsy patients can become frustrated and irritable. Luckily, psychotherapy can improve these behavioral problems by enhancing self-esteem, preventing negative behaviors and emphasizing positive messages.
Surgery: Surgery for cerebral palsy can help loosen stiff muscles and release fixed joints. Surgical procedures are typically only performed on major joints, such as the hips, ankles in knees. Unfortunately, only 5% of cerebral palsy patients benefit from surgery to relieve stiffness of the elbows, hands, wrists and fingers.
Surgery can also be performed to limit spasms and restore a degree of control. During this form of cerebral palsy treatment, certain nerves in the limbs are cut.
Occupational Therapy: Cerebral palsy patients can learn how to perform daily activities, such as eating and dressing, through occupational therapy. An occupational therapist aims to improve the development of smaller muscles, including the fingers, toes, hands, feet and face.
Birth Injury Lawyers
Reading about the latest forms of cerebral palsy treatment can help your child live independently. For more information on cerebral palsy treatments, speak with your doctor. If you are interested in recovering compensation to pay for these treatments, fill out our free case review form on the right. A birth injury attorney will evaluate your claim at no cost to determine whether you are eligible for compensation through a birth injury lawsuit.