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What is Cerebral Palsy Physiotherapy?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2018
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Cerebral palsy physiotherapy is a treatment strategy commonly administered to patients with cerebral palsy. It is a non-drug related therapy that relies on the use of external stimulation of muscles. Though exercise is the foundation of the treatment, it may also include the application of heat and massage. The goal of cerebral palsy physiotherapy is to generate improvement in muscle and nerve functions involved in the creation of movement. It's a long-term therapy, with most patients involved to some extent over the course of their lives.

Occupational therapy concentrates on strengthening the large muscles of the arms and legs, which control gross motor skills. Speech and language therapy involve the small muscles of the body and should help the patient perform small motor skills such as chewing, swallowing, and writing. Many people who suffer from cerebral palsy may require equipment to help them function. This equipment could include wheelchairs, computerized devices, and special eating utensils. Adaptive therapy will often help the patient learn to utilize these aids.

Since cerebral palsy is usually diagnosed in babies and very young children, toys have become an integral part of cerebral palsy physiotherapy. Musical mobiles that hang above a child’s crib can be useful in sensory development. Balls and play tunnels have been found to help with large motor skills, and basic building blocks can be useful in small muscle development.

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The cause of cerebral palsy is brain damage that generally results from injury at birth or during pregnancy. There is no known cure, and without a scientific breakthrough, the damage is believed to be permanent. When a child is diagnosed with this condition, the doctor typically consults with a therapist to determine the best course of treatment. In most cases, family members and teachers will also participate. Since many of the exercises should be repeated throughout the day, it is crucial that caregivers are capable of performing some of the therapy.

This condition directly affects the brain’s control of motor skills. The muscles in the body do not respond normally to signals from the brain, which can potentially result in muscles becoming underdeveloped, and in some cases, overdeveloped. In both instances, the patient usually suffers a loss of mobility. The progression and severity of the condition can vary greatly, as do any prescribed therapies. Types of cerebral palsy physiotherapy typically include occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and adaptive equipment therapy.

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