Physio for Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy Treatment

Cerebral Palsy is a condition of the brain and nervous system. It is caused by abnormal development or injury that occurs in the developing brain of a baby during pregnancy, birth or as a young child. The affected area of the brain is unable to form the correct instructions and messages to send to the related area of the body for appropriate activity or movement. Cerebral Palsy affects body movement, muscle control, coordination and tone, as well as reflexes, posture and balance. It can also impact fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning. Also covers any amount of damage to any part of the brain, and therefore symptoms and treatment vary dramatically depending on the individual.

Physiotherapy (PT) is an important part of managing cerebral palsy (CP). It usually starts soon after diagnosis. It may begin earlier, depending on the symptoms. Some people with CP continue physiotherapy throughout their lives, especially those with severe physical disabilities.

Also Physiotherapy plays a central role in managing this condition. Physiotherapists will assess the child and record and monitor their development.

As part of a tailored treatment plan, they will teach the child how to control their head movements and how to sit, roll, crawl and walk, encouraging normal motor development and function. Their treatment will also strive to prevent and inhibit abnormal reflexes and patterns of movement.

The goals of physiotherapy are to:

    • Foster independence by improving functional mobility.
    • Strengthen and encourage the growth of muscles.
    • Improve the ability to move all parts of the body.
  • Prevent joints from becoming tight or permanently bent (contracted).

Physiotherapists provide exercises for patients to improve functional mobility, encourage muscle growth and prevent joints from becoming permanently contracted. They may also provide adaptive techniques and special equipment for the patient to more easily perform day-to-day tasks.

Typically, parents (and other member of the family) are involved in therapy and taught home exercises and strategies to help their child keep muscles strong and joints flexible.

Physiotherapy also may include the use of:

    • Special positions, exercises, and cushions to help keep a child in a more natural position.
    • Braces, casts, and splints to help straighten and support the child’s joints. These devices also may help manage uncontrolled limb movements.
    • Scooters, wheelchairs, and other devices for increased mobility.
    • A special plastic jacket that is individually moulded to prevent the spine from curving more. Curves in the spine (scoliosis) sometimes develop in teens with cerebral palsy.
  • Equipment for constraint-induced movement therapy, also called shaping. This approach encourages a child to increase movements through presenting interesting activities or objects and giving praise and rewards when a child makes attempts to use the less-functioning muscles.

For children, treatment for Cerebral Palsy primarily aims to increase mobility and promote physical development such as sitting, crawling and walking. Treatment should be started early and should aim to continue on a regular basis. Every child with Cerebral Palsy presents differently and has different needs.

Some of the physiotherapy treatments we offer aim to:

    • Increase muscle strength and activation
    • Decrease muscles tightness and spasms through stretching programs and splinting techniques
    • Encourage physical development through play and everyday activities
  • Improve mobility with the use of different aids

For adults, treatment is aimed at improving muscle activation and control and improving functional abilities. Specialist services for adults with Cerebral Palsy are often less widely available than those for children.  Every individual with Cerebral Palsy presents with different symptoms, needs and priorities depending on their age and the extent of the damage to the brain. Each individual will be assessed by their therapist and have treatment tailored to their needs and goals.

Some of the physiotherapy treatments we offer can help to:

    • Increase muscle strength through strengthening and mobilisation exercises
    • Minimise abnormal patterns of movement through re-alignment and activation of muscles
    • Improve postural alignment through mobilisation and strengthening
    • Improve balance and mobility through assessment of different seating and mobility aids and postural  re-education
    • Increase sensation through sensory stimulation
    • Reduce muscle stiffness, spasms and pain through stretching programmes
    • Reduce the risk of falls through balance work, gait re-education and training
    • Help reduce foot drop through functional electrical stimulation (FES) and various orthotics
  • Increase independence and quality of life through management of positioning in bed and seating

With the new NDIS, many people now have access to funding which can be utilised for Physiotherapy services to improve their independence.

If you know someone who has Cerebral Palsy, get in touch now to see how we can help!