February 18, 2015

epic-news-cerebral-palsy-muscle-stiffness-diagnoses-diagnosis-pediatric-therapy-occupational-physical-speech-therapy-behavioral-home-health-care-caregiver-caregivingLearning that your child has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy is overwhelming news for a parent.  It is difficult to find one treatment that works for every child.

The internet can be a helpful source of information; however, the amount of information available online can be overwhelming when trying to determine your child’s specific needs.

Children with cerebral palsy may experience delayed development of fine motor skills (use of hands), gross motor skills (large movements) and oral motor functioning (eating and speaking).

Cerebral palsy affects a person’s ability to control their muscles. Muscles can become very stiff or very relaxed and weak.

Children with cerebral palsy may also experience uncontrollable trembling or shaking motions. This results in difficulties with coordination and balance, and also results in poor posture that can make sitting and walking difficult. Children may also have difficulty using their hands to grasp objects in order to participate in self-care.

Our occupational therapists often see children with decreased use of one side of his or her body. This is known as hemiplegia. If you think your child may have hemiplegia, ask your therapist about constrained induced movement therapy (CIMT) or bimanual training.

CIMT involves restraint of the child’s non-affected arm in order to encourage him or her to use the weak arm. Through CIMT, the therapist provides motivation for the child to utilize his or her impaired hand by encouraging play. Bimanual training is a different technique that involves using both hands together with repetitive task training such as catching a large ball that requires using two hands to hold.

A child with cerebral palsy must be evaluated and treated for his or her unique needs by a team of physicians, including medical specialists. Specialists can help the child maximize his or her ability to move, communicate and learn self-care. Specialists address secondary complications such as poor posture which can be painful for a child. Specialists may also recommend therapy and adaptive equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers and hand splints.

If your child with cerebral palsy experiences stiff muscles, talk to your medical specialist about interventions and treatments that can relax their muscles so they can complete daily life activities. Our team of physical and occupational therapists can provide therapeutic exercises and share information with you about positioning programs to improve your child’s posture and maximize their potential.

Epic’s physical, occupational, speech and behavioral therapists work closely with medical specialists to meet each patient’s unique needs in the management of his or her cerebral palsy. Our therapists believe in a family-centered approach to care and involve families in developing the appropriate plan of care.

For more information about cerebral palsy and possible treatments for your child, contact the Epic Pediatric Therapy clinic nearest you. For more information about our pediatric therapy services, visit our website.

Monique Alvarez, OTD, OTR/L
El Paso, Texas

Novak et. al., (2013).  A systematic review of interventions for children with cerebral palsy: state of the evidence.  Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 55: 885–910.