If you are reading this, it is quite likely that you have a loved one with cerebral palsy and that you are attempting to uncover treatments that will aid them with their condition. Given the fact that cerebral palsy is a condition that negatively impacts a person’s ability to maintain their balance and/or posture and negatively affects their ability to move, physical therapy is an excellent treatment choice. Continue reading this comprehensive guide on the productiveness of physical therapy for cerebral palsy patients.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy – often referred to as “CP” – refers to a unique group of neurological-based disorders that become apparent when a person is in infancy or childhood. It then permanently affects the movements of the body and the coordination of the muscles. It is caused by damage inside the brain and disrupts its ability to properly control movements and properly maintain balance and/or posture.
“Cerebral” means “the brain”. “Palsy” refers to either the impairment or the loss of motor function. The condition could be caused by impairment developments of the brain and/or damage that occurs with an injury that impacts the brain – or, both. These could be prior to, during, or after birth. The damage that causes the condition is irreversible. The disabilities that occur are considered to be permanent.
What are the Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?
There are many symptoms associated with cerebral palsy. When looking for treatments for the condition, the ultimate goal is to find strategies that aid in alleviating the symptoms so that the sufferer may be more comfortable. The following outlines the most common symptoms experienced by those with cerebral palsy:
- Lack of coordination of the muscles when performing various types of voluntary-based movements
- Spasticity and tight muscles
- Weakness in at least one arm or one leg or both
- Walking on the toes
- Having muscles that are either too tight or too loose
- Tremors and other types of involuntary movements
- Delays in reaching milestones in terms of motor skills
- Problems with movements that must be precise – such as those that occur when buttoning a shirt
What are the Most Common Treatments for Cerebral Palsy?
There are several types of treatments that are effective for cerebral palsy. These include the following:
- Orthotic Devices – There are several types of devices that may be used on the limbs in order to improve balance and aid in movements. Examples include braces, casts, walkers, and more.
- Assistive Devices – Many technological products are now available that help with the symptoms of cerebral palsy. These include electronic communication products and powered scooters.
- Medication – There are medications that may be taken by mouth, injected, and infused into the body that may help with the symptoms of cerebral palsy. These relax muscles that are stiff, tight, or overactive. There are medications that may also be taken for abnormalities in movements. Unfortunately, many of these medicines cause unfavorable side effects.
- Physical Therapy – Physical therapy is considered to be one of the most productive and helpful treatments for cerebral palsy. This involves the use of various movements, exercises, and activities that aid in the maintenance or the improvement of muscles and the strength of the body. Physical therapy also helps in balance and movement. There are different types of physical therapy that may be used with those with cerebral palsy. These include occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and recreational activity.
- Surgery – There are various types of surgeries that may help those with cerebral palsy. These include those that lengthen the muscles, corrections to a curved spine, cutting nerves, and more.
Not all of the treatments mentioned here are right for those with cerebral palsy. The only treatment that is effective for all patients is physical therapy. Continue reading to learn more.
What Do Physical Therapists Do for Cerebral Palsy?
Individuals in the physical therapy industry help those with cerebral palsy by providing them with exercises that increase strength and flexibility, heat treatment, perform massages, and even provide special equipment to those with the condition and help them learn how to use that equipment so that they may move better and maintain better balance. The ultimate goal of physical therapy for cerebral palsy is to help the patient become as independent as possible and experience as few symptoms as possible.
What Type of Therapy is Best for Those with Cerebral Palsy?
It has been established that physical therapy is the best type of therapy for those who have cerebral palsy. Typically, this type of therapy starts soon after being diagnosed with the illness.
Is it Possible for Physical Therapy to Improve Cerebral Palsy?
Yes, it is possible for physical therapy to improve cerebral palsy. This form of therapy aids in the improvement of motor skills and can aid in preventing movement problems from increasing in severity, over time. This treatment implements a number of exercises that place an emphasis on a person’s strength and level of flexibility. In addition to this, there are other treatments prescribed by physical therapists. These include – but are not at all limited to – heat treatment and massage therapy.
Will Physical Therapy Stop Spasticity with Cerebral Palsy?
Physical therapy will not indefinitely or completely stop the spasticity that is commonly experienced by cerebral palsy patients. It does help to reduce it, though. The spasticity is caused by damage that has occurred to the brain and/or spinal cord. The exercises and activities provided in physical therapy sessions are able to lessen the spasticity, though, which will help in the prevention of contractures in the joints and will help the patient live in a more independent manner.
Is Cerebral Palsy a Condition That Worsens with Age?
The good news is, that cerebral palsy is not a condition that worsens with age. It is referred to as a “non-progressive disorder”. This means it does not worsen with time. The life expectancy for a person who has this condition is between 30 and 70 years. There is no cure for the condition, but it does last for life. If a sufferer has physical therapy treatments for cerebral palsy, it is likely that they will live longer and have a higher level of independence.
Will Physical Therapy Help Cerebral Palsy Go into Remission?
Cerebral palsy is a permanent type of condition and does not go into remission; however, if physical therapy treatment is done, it helps patients to effectively manage their condition. It also helps to ensure that the patient’s overall quality of life is optimized.
Is Physical Therapy for Cerebral Palsy Covered by Insurance?
Yes, if a patient who has cerebral palsy is covered by insurance, physical therapy treatments will typically be covered. If the insurance company is considered to be a private entity, it could be that they require a higher deductible for physical therapy sessions, but this is not typically the case. Standard physical therapy is typically almost always covered. Additional physical therapy treatments are typically covered, too, if they are considered to be a requirement for the patient.
If you have a child or other loved one who could benefit from physical therapy, we here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy encourage you to contact us today. Our goal is to ease the severity of the symptoms associated with the issue and to help the patient experience a high level of independence. In addition to standard physical therapy, we offer dry needling therapy, vestibular therapy for balance, orthotics, and more. To learn more or to set up an appointment, contact us today at 303-832-5577