Cerebral palsy has no cure, but there are a wide variety of therapies and treatments which can ease suffering and enhance quality of life. Cerebral palsy can cause increased muscle tone, decreased range of motion, painful contractures, and can lead to osteoporosis. Children with cerebral palsy will likely benefit from a regular regimen of therapies, starting at infancy.
Many of these therapies will be provided for through schooling up through the age of 21. However, some parents may wish to pay for additional therapies, or may find the options provided by their school system are insufficient to meet their child’s needs.
The goal of physical therapy is to teach children with cerebral palsy to move, balance, walk, stand up, and use assistive devices, like wheelchairs and walkers. The physical therapist will use exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles. This is important to keep the muscles loose and to ward off the tight muscles that frequently afflict people with cerebral palsy. The therapist will also work with parents to recommend positioning techniques that can help the child, including wheelchair inserts, bracing, pillows, and sitting techniques. Some physical therapists even use aquatic therapy to accomplish these goals.
Occupational therapy is treatment intended to help maximize independence for children with cerebral palsy. It will enhance their cognitive, physical, and fine motor skills. For infants and children, occupational therapy is not directed toward employment, but is focused on the child’s primary job—playing and developing ordinary skills. Fine motor skills, for example, can be improved by therapies directed at improving hand-eye coordination. Behavioral problems can be minimized with anger-management techniques. Assistive equipment and tools (like cups with large handles) can be used to help increase a child’s independence and self-esteem.
A major difficulty for children with cerebral palsy is communication. The condition can affect muscles and motor skills throughout the body, including in the face and mouth. Speech therapy is directed at identifying the best method of communication for the patient with cerebral palsy, and increasing those abilities.
A speech pathologist will help patients to increase their vocabulary, learn to use their mouth muscles effectively, and even use specialized computers or iPad applications to better communicate with others.
If your child has cerebral palsy, and you want to know if it was caused by negligence during labor and delivery, contact our medical malpractice lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or send us a request for free consultation through our online contact form.