Treating Cerebral Palsy

Quick Answer

Treatments may improve the quality of life for a child with cerebral palsy. Many different treatments options exist to help manage any form of cerebral palsy, from mild to extremely severe cases. Treatment options for cerebral palsy include surgery, medication and various types of therapy.

What is Cerebral Palsy Treatment?

Cerebral palsy treatment typically consists of measures to reverse the effects of the condition, as well as methods for your child to manage and overcome their symptoms. Common forms of treatment include medication, surgery, various forms of therapy and adaptive equipment.

Depending on the severity of your child’s cerebral palsy, different treatment plans may be recommended. A child with severe epilepsy may be prescribed medication to prevent seizures. Children with milder cases of cerebral palsy may only require ongoing physical therapy.

Ultimately, all forms of cerebral palsy treatment are used to improve the quality of life of children with the condition and help them to live more independently.

Is There a Cure?

Currently, there is no cure for cerebral palsy. There is also no definitive way to prevent the condition, especially if it was caused by improper medical care before, during or after delivery.

There are some precautions you can take to help prevent cerebral palsy.

These precautions include:

  • Cooling: Cooling, or mild hypothermia, aims to lower an infant’s body temperature if they suffered a lack of oxygen during delivery. Lowering the body temperature helps  minimize the impact of the brain injury.
  • Antenatal Steroids: Steroids can be given to mothers at risk of delivering prematurely to decrease the change of their baby developing cerebral palsy.
  • Magnesium Sulphate: Magnesium sulphate also helps decrease the risk of cerebral palsy in babies delivered preterm.

Although there is no cure for cerebral palsy, there are many treatment and therapy options that can help your child live a healthy, productive and more independent life.

Treatment vs Therapy

In regard to cerebral palsy and other birth injuries, the words “therapy” and “treatment” are often used to mean the same thing. This is because there is currently no cure for the condition.

There are, however, various ways to manage the symptoms and effects of cerebral palsy. Children and families can work to control the condition through various forms of therapy.

In short, therapy is one of the best ways to treat—or manage—cerebral palsy.

“Therapy” involves the work of those who do not try to cure, but rather aim to improve the lives of people with cerebral palsy. Therapists do not expect to cure. Instead, they try to decrease cerebral palsy symptoms. They are concerned with helping people become as independent as possible.

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When to Seek Treatment

Cerebral palsy treatment should begin as soon as symptoms are noticed. Early intervention helps to prevent complete loss of function in the affected limbs.

A diagnosis is not required to begin cerebral palsy treatment. Therefore, even if your child has not yet been diagnosed, they can begin physical therapy to strengthen muscles, speech therapy to improve communication and more.

Therapy Options for Cerebral Palsy

Therapy cannot fully cure cerebral palsy. However, it can help to improve the quality of life of a child with the condition. Three of the most common types of cerebral palsy therapy are physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy uses specially designed exercises to help strengthen the muscles of a child with cerebral palsy. It also works to improve your child’s flexibility, balance, movement and motor skills.

Physical therapy has a range of benefits. It can help families and caregivers provide better assistance to the child with cerebral palsy during bathing, feeding and more. Physical therapists can also recommend supportive devices such as braces and splints to improve your child’s mobility.

Speech Therapy

Some children with cerebral palsy have difficulty speaking and communicating clearly. This is because the condition can affect the muscles in the mouth and tongue. Speech therapy is extremely useful in cases when for those whose cerebral palsy affects the movement of their mouth.

Speech therapists can help children and families affected by birth injuries learn to communicate more effectively through sign language. They can also provide guidance on how to use helpful communication devices such as a computers and voice synthesizers.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is used to help those with cerebral palsy become more independent at work, school and while performing self-care and day-to-day activities at work, school or home. It can also help parents fully better understand their child’s condition and discover better ways to provide care and assistance.

Occupational therapists provide children and parents recommendations for changing the child’s environment to make playing and learning more effective. They may also suggest adaptive equipment aimed to increase independence in children with cerebral palsy.

Adaptive Equipment

Adaptive equipment is used to help those with cerebral palsy perform daily activities in more independent ways. Examples of these types of devices include wheelchairs, custom-made clothing, braces and gadgets to help grasp objects.

Depending on the symptoms and severity of the condition, children with cerebral palsy may have trouble walking, getting in and out of bed or holding onto objects like utensils. Adaptive equipment provides simpler and better new ways for those with the condition to perform these day-to-day tasks.

Medication for Cerebral Palsy

Medication can be an effective treatment method for many symptoms of cerebral palsy. Since the symptoms of cerebral palsy vary from person to person, the medications to treat them depend on which symptoms are prevalent.

There are different types of medications to combat symptoms such as seizures and spasticity that often appear in cases of cerebral palsy.

Medications for spasticity include:

  • Baclofen
  • Zanaflex®
  • Valium®
  • Dantrium®

Medications for seizures include:

  • Tegretol®
  • Dilantin®
  • Depakote®
  • Trileptal®
  • Lamictal®

Surgery for Cerebral Palsy

Surgery for cerebral palsy may be recommended when the other treatments do not improve symptoms. However, surgery is often considered a last resort. Your child’s health care team will typically test other options such as medication, adaptive equipment and therapy before recommending surgery.

There are surgeries that may help reduce certain cerebral palsy symptoms such as spasticity and contractures. Surgery may be necessary if symptoms do not respond well to treatment over time or cause complications that cannot be eased by therapy.

Types of cerebral palsy surgery include:

  • Stereotactic surgery
  • Selective dorsal rhizotomy
  • Tenotomy for cerebral palsy
  • Baclofen pump implantation

Protect Your Child’s Future

If your child was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, it is natural to have questions about their condition and treatment options. Although there is currently no cure for the condition, numerous treatment and therapy options exist to help your child live their best life. Talk to your doctor to determine which types of treatment are best for your child.

If you believe your child’s condition was the result of medical negligence, you have the right to know the truth about the care provided to them before, during and after delivery. Give us a call today to receive a free case review. We will discuss with you how you can take action to protect your child’s future after a cerebral palsy diagnosis.

Birth Injury Support Team

The Birth Injury Justice Center was founded in 2003 by a team of legal professionals to educate and empower victims and families affected by birth injuries. Our team is devoted to providing you with the best resources and legal information for all types of birth injuries.

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