Physical Therapy Used to Help Treat Cerebral Palsy
There is presently no cure for cerebral palsy. There are however many different types of treatments that are available. Treatments that can be used to effectively help the patient with normal every-day tasks and increase their quality life. Physical therapy is one of the most effective forms of treatments for cerebral palsy available today. There is no single standard type of physical therapy that works for everyone. Each case of cerebral palsy affects the patient differently. Therefore, each treatment is also different. A plan is first discussed to address the unique needs and impairments of the child. A plan is then created to addresses these impairments. Physical treatments are typically started after the child is two or three years old or when they first show symptoms.
Physical therapy can be used to not only help existing impairments but to help prevent future complications. One of the most common complications of cerebral palsy is a muscle contracture. A muscle contracture is the shortening of a muscle. This shortened muscle makes the muscle very stiff and tight. This contracture typically limits the range of motion and/or movement allowed by the muscle groups affected. This can also disrupt balance and affect motor skills. Physical therapy in combination with special braces may be used to help prevent this condition. If a child has spastic tendons, the physical therapist may help the child with stretches to help relive the tightened muscles. This may help prevent contracture but is not effective once muscle contracture has taken place. If done properly, physical therapy can prevent muscle contractures from occurring. If muscle contractures already exist, therapy can help them from worsening. Orthopedic surgery may be used to lengthen the muscle tendon to relive tension with spastic tendons or muscle contractures. Children enrolled in physical therapy at a young age have a higher chance at developing faster and overcoming many challenges. Motor skills and movement are typically the first areas worked on when physical therapy is used. Physical therapy may also help prevent musculoskeletal complications such as muscle deterioration that develops after lack of use. For the most part physical therapy is part of everyday life for a cerebral palsy patient. From helping to prevent new complications to overcoming existing impairments, physical therapy is a powerful tool in fighting against cerebral palsy challenges.
As a child gets older and closer to the age of attending school, the physical therapist may concentrate on other tasks. Such tasks would include walking independently, holding a pencil, and simple communication skills.
Another type of physical therapy is known as patterning. Patterning is based on the principle that motor skills should be taught in the same sequence that a child would normally develop. This approach involves the therapist guiding the child with movement problems. The child is initially taught basic movements such as sitting up before they are taught to crawl.
Physical therapy can be a long process, starting when the child first shows signs of cerebral palsy. Therapy can be expensive and may last well into adulthood. If your child’s cerebral palsy was caused by medical malpractice you may be entitled financial compensation to help pay for physical therapy. Don’t delay – contact our firm now to learn how the law can protect you and your family.