Mainstream Treatments will typically be found at hospitals and paid for by insurance or other state programs. The alternative to mainstream treatments will be alternative treatments and finally advanced or experimental treatments.
A number of treatment options exist for children and adults suffering from all forms of cerebral palsy. These range from non-invasive therapies to surgical procedures, depending on the type and severity of the condition. Children with cerebral palsy usually have an entire team of medical professionals devoted to their care, as different symptoms require the attention of different specialized physicians. These include:
• A pediatrician who oversees their primary care
• A neurologist who diagnoses the neurological impairment and assess the severity of the condition
• An orthopedist who specializes in bone and muscle disorders
• An occupational therapist who helps them develop their everyday skills and learn to function on their own
• A mental health provider who oversees their mental health care
• A social worker who helps their family coordinate and plan treatments
• A speech therapist who helps them improve their speaking skills
• A special education teacher who addresses any learning disabilities they may have
There are many different medications approved for treating the symptoms of cerebral palsy in both children and adults, and medication can make symptom management easier. The type of medications a doctor may recommend depend wholly on how extensive the symptoms are.
People who experience isolated spasticity, such as in their arms, may benefit from Botox or similar injections to temporarily paralyze the muscle or nerves to force them to relax. This reduces the stiffness in the affected limbs. However, a side effect often associated with Botox injections is severe weakness. In rare cases, it can make eating and breathing more difficult.
For people who are affected by spastcity throughout their entire body, oral medications are usually the preferred method of treatment. Muscle relaxers, such as Valium, Zanaflex or Dantrium can help relax the spastic muscles, improving mobility and range of motion. However, there is a high risk of dependency associated with each of these medications, so they are not recommended as a long-term treatment option and should only be taken on occasion. In severe cases, such as spastic quadriplegia, doctors may recommend the implantation of a Baclofen pump in the abdomen. The Baclofen is pumped directly into the spine. Side effects of all of these medications include drowziness, weakness and drooling. Zanaflex may also cause liver damage and low blood pressure.
Medications to treat the other symptoms of cerebral palsy may also be recommended. These include anti-convulsants to prevent seizures and anti-depressants.
Physical therapy is one of the most popular forms of treatment for all types of cerebral palsy, as it is entirely non-invasive and has minimal risks associated with it. Physical therapy focuses on muscle training and range of motion exercises to help people with cerebral palsy improve their flexibilty, coordination and balance. Over time, physical therapy can help people with cerebral palsy improve their motor skills, such as walking and grasping.
Because of the speech complications common in cerebral palsy, speech therapy is another popular form of treatment. Speech therapy helps people with cerebral palsy improve their speaking skills or learn to communicate in sign language, or in some cases, how to use an electronic communication box or picture book. Speech therapy helps people with cerebral palsy improve their quality of life, as it helps give them the ability to communicate with those who care about them and convey their needs.
Occupational therapy helps people with cerebral palsy develop the skills they need to complete everyday tasks. The ultimate goal of occupational therapy is to help people with cerebral palsy become as independent and functioning as possible in relation to the severity of their disability. Occupational
Other Forms of Therapy
In recent years, other forms of therapy have become increasingly popular in treating children and adults with cerebral palsy. These include aqua therapy, hippotherapy, play therapy, sensory integration therapy and social therapy. When combined with other common types of therapy, people with cerebral palsy can receive a well-rounded course of treatment.
Some families opt to integrate alternative medicine and holistic medicine into the treatment plans of their loved ones with cerebral palsy. Yoga, accupuncture, chiropractic manipulation and massage are just a few examples of alternative medicine treatments that may be affective in adressing the symptoms of cerebral palsy.
Braces can help stabalize affected limbs and prevent deformities from developing. Leg braces are commonly used as treatment for spastic diplegia, as they help strengthen and support the legs while preventing them from bowing over time. In some cases, braces may be placed on the non-affected limb to limit its use, forcing the person to use their affected limb as much as possible and strengthening it.
In rare cases, surgical procedures may be needed to correct deformities and other complications associated with cerebral palsy. Orthopedic surgery may be used to correct deformities in the bones and spine, as well as lengthen the muscles and tendons. Corrective surgeries can help improve mobility and range of motion. Even more rarely, surgeons may opt to sever the nerves of the spastic muscles, forcing them to relax. While this may ease the stiffness, it may also cause permanent numbness to the affected area.