Cerebral Palsy Treatments
While there is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, there are many different treatments, including holistic, experimental drugs and therapy. However, the key to helping anyone with Cerebral Palsy is early intervention. Early intervention will help the patient to live more effectively, giving them a better chance of overcoming the disabilities inherent with the disease. While treatment for patients with Cerebral Palsy is often symptomatic, it is done in the hope of helping the patient develop as many motor skills as possible and compensating for the particular disability associated with their type of CP. Some of the types of treatment include but are not limited to:
- Physical and occupational therapy - This involves working with the patient encouraging them to build strength in their different muscle groups. This will help with improved gait if they are mobile, or the ability to hold them erect in a wheel chair. Physical therapy is something that is a lifelong commitment for not only the patient but their caregiver.
- Nutrition - A study of 490 premature infants, found that the rate of growth during their stay in the hospital was related to neurological function at 18 and 22 months of age. There was a significant decrease in the incidence of CP in the group of premature infants with the highest growth velocity. The results of the study suggest that proper nutrition and growth play somewhat of a protective role in the development of Cerebral Palsy.
- Speech therapy – When the muscles of the face, such as the mouth and jaw are affected, communication can be improved by the use of speech therapy. Just like physical therapy, this therapy is a commitment at least through a child’s school years. The benefits of speech therapy may help the patient to breath clearly, talk clearly, improve the ability to bite, chew and swallow their food.
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy - Recently studies have shown a dramatic improvement in CP symptoms when hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used. Significant results were documented showing improved vision, hearing and speech and a 50 percent reduction of spasticity, occurring in 94 percent of the study patients.
- Surgery - Loosening of tight muscles and joints, commonly found in the hips, knees, hamstrings, and ankles. Muscle tightening in the back may also be relieved by the use of a Baclofen Pump. This pump is connected to the spinal cord and sends Baclofen (a muscle relaxer) to the muscles, which alleviates the muscle flexation. Limbs may also become twisted due to the uncontrollable flexing of the muscles. Surgery to straighten the limbs called “derotation osteotomy” includes cutting of the bone and straightening it to the correct alignment. A Rhizotomy, which is cutting of the nerves, may also help to reduce spasms and allow more flexibility and control of the affected limbs.
- Botox – Injections are given into muscles that are constricting, which helps to relieve the pain and disability produced by the constricting.
- Cord Blood Therapy – This experimental therapy is still in the testing phase.
- Biofeedback – Another alternative therapy, which strives to teach patients with CP how to control their affected muscles and limbs. This is not a method for all patients with CP.
The mainstay of treatment for cerebral palsy, however, seems to be a multi faceted physical therapy program. A good physical therapy regimen will prevent muscle atrophy and contraction of muscles. If the patient exhibits behavioral problems, it would likely be recommended that behavioral therapy should be implemented along with a possible a drug therapy program. Each case of cerebral palsy in itself is unique and will require the help of healthcare professionals in cooperation with the family or caregiver in making the decision for the best type of therapy for that patient. If your child suffers from cerebral palsy that resulted from an accident, a serious head injury or medical malpractice, please call one of our experienced lawyers to assist you on the claim.