Treatments for Cerebral Palsy
In the previous section, we talked about Prognosis and Life Expectancy for Cerebral Palsy. On this page, we will continue with a discussion of the treatment options that are available for Cerebral Palsy. You will learn about medication, therapy, and surgery treatments that may significantly improve the condition of a child with Cerebral Palsy.
This information has been compiled from government sources, medical sources, and from consulting with experts on Cerebral Palsy.
Keep reading to learn more about treatment options for Cerebral Palsy.
Treatments for Cerebral Palsy
It can feel devastating when a child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Parents often have many questions about what they can do next to help improve their child’s condition. Fortunately, although Cerebral Palsy is a permanent condition, a long term treatment plan can significantly improve the life of people with cerebral palsy.
Early intervention and a well crafted treatment plan are key to getting a child the right care to help their specific symptoms.
Children with Cerebral Palsy often have problems with poor muscle tone. Either their limbs are too rigid or too floppy, or sometimes their coordination is limited. Problems with muscle control sometimes be addressed through medication. Medication can be used to improve motor functioning and help manage pain.
Muscle and Nerve Injections
OnabotulinumtoxinA (Botox, Dysport) and other medication may be injected into the muscles or nerves to help treat tight muscles. Side effects can include difficulty breathing, swallowing, pain, and flu-like symptoms.
Oral Muscle Relaxants
Diazepam (Valium), tizanidine (Zanaflex), baclofen (Gablofen and Lioresal), and dantrolene (Dantrium) are drugs commonly used to relax muscles.
Side effects of these drugs can include irregular blood pressure, liver damage, a general drowsiness, excessive drooling, and dependency risks.
Therapy treatment plans include a wide and vibrant network of options for helping improve Cerebral Palsy. Some forms of therapy focus on the physical challenges children with Cerebral Palsy face, while other forms of therapy focus on the emotional and mental challenges.
Finding the right type of therapy for a child may improve a child’s capacity to participate in regular day-to-day activities and may improve a child’s overall independence.
In physical therapy, the goal is to improve muscle control, strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. Children with CP may have difficulty with developmental milestones like raising their head, grasping, rolling over, crawling, and walking. Physical therapy can help children and parents learn to overcome these challenges.
Early on, your child may need special equipment to help with physical therapy. Braces and splints and wheelchairs are options that can help increase a child’s mobility and independence.
An occupational therapist works with people everywhere–whether it’s in the home, at school, or at work, they can assist people with CP in overcoming the challenges of a daily routine.
When a child needs special accommodations, an occupational therapist can help with decisions about walkers, seating systems, wheelchairs, and canes. They can also help you navigate the education system and how to make sure your child is as comfortable and safe as they can be.
If a child’s throat and face are affected by CP, or if a related intellectual disability also affects a child, they may have difficulty with speech and language.
Speech therapists can help you and your child learn how to communicate together. Sign language and communication devices can help bridge the language barrier.
If a child struggles with speech, they may also have difficulty eating and swallowing. Fortunately, speech therapists are also capable of treating these conditions.
The purpose of recreational therapy is to introduce a person to activities that will improve the person’s emotional and or physical well-being. As a child grows up, it can be hard emotionally to feel unable or limited in their ability to participate in physical activities with other children.
Recreational therapy is a great way to help a child have fun, play, and connect with other people. From learning to ride a bike and skateboard to horseback riding and basketball, recreational therapy is a creative and encouraging way to learn and grow.
Family Support and Education
Raising a child with CP can be emotionally and physically taxing. Part of your child’s success is also taking good care of your own physical and mental wellbeing. In our Community Resources section, we refer to many communities where you can get support for yourself in addition to your child.
As a parent, you should try to be receptive and open minded to the challenges that come with CP. Be encouraging to yourself and to your family. Learn positive coping mechanisms for the difficult times, and celebrate the victories when they come. Never be afraid to ask questions and to advocate for your child.
Surgery may be appropriate when other treatment plans have not been effective. Surgery may be able to help both muscle and bone problems that are causing pain or muscle abnormalities.
In cases of severe deformities, orthopedic surgery may be necessary to correct the position of the bones or joints. Through surgery, a doctor may be able to help lengthen muscles and tendons that are shortened from contractures. Orthopedic surgery may reduce pain and increase mobility.
Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy
In severe cases of CP when a child is in pain and other treatments have not worked, a doctor may recommend selective dorsal rhizotomy. This treatment involves cutting nerve fibers in the body to relax the muscles and reduce pain. However, a common side effect of this invasive surgery is numbness, so this option should only be explored with caution.
Talk with Your Doctor About a Treatment Plan
With all of the different ways treatment can help, it may feel overwhelming, confusing, but hopefully encouraging to learn about treatment options for CP. The next step is to make a list of your child’s symptoms and talk with your doctor. Ask as many questions as you can, and work to establish a treatment plan that fits your child’s needs.
In our next section, we will talk about Conditions Related to Cerebral Palsy. Keep reading to learn more.
About Brown Trial Firm
Getting help for a child with cerebral palsy can make a big difference. Because early intervention is often key to helping improve a child’s wellbeing, it’s important to act swiftly.
At the Brown Trial Firm, our birth injury attorneys can help you investigate your case, find answers to your questions, and determine whether you are entitled to compensation.
We offer case reviews at no cost or obligation. Many birth injuries that cause cerebral palsy could have been prevented. Don’t wait, get help today. Call us toll free at +1 (866) 223-7465 or email us a [email protected].
Cerebral palsy – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic. (2019). Mayoclinic.org. Retrieved 6 November 2019, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cerebral-palsy/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354005