If your child is diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you want to learn more so you can help your loved one reach their full potential. Dr. Charles Niesen, our board-certified pediatric neurologist, and our team at AMS Neurology in Pasadena, California, diagnose your child and help coordinate professional care that takes place using multimodal therapies.
Following are seven standard treatments for helping manage your child’s cerebral palsy.
Your child may need medication to address their specific needs. Some drugs help relax muscles and control seizures and spastic movements. Others help with breathing problems, digestive issues, and learning or behavior issues. We work with your entire care team to ensure your child receives the help they need.
Your child’s physical therapy is very important. From toddlerhood onward, a physical therapist helps your child improve mobility, balance, and strength. Your child learns to reach their maximum physical potential whether it’s walking with assistive devices or using a wheelchair.
Occupational therapy helps your child become as independent as possible. Occupational therapists help them learn to use all of their abilities so they can perform as many tasks of daily life as practicable such as dressing themselves, eating, being mobile, holding objects, using assistive devices, and much more.
Their therapy changes as your child grows. Young children play with toys to increase manual dexterity, while teens focus on life and career skills. We provide referrals for occupational therapy.
We also provide referrals for speech therapy when needed. About half of children with cerebral palsy need this service.
If it’s difficult for your child to use their face, throat, head, and neck muscles, they likely have trouble chewing food and swallowing. Speech therapy helps your child gain proper nutrition and hydration, increasing their quality of life and health. A speech therapist works with your child to strengthen the muscles involved in speech and swallowing.
Your child’s therapist helps them understand speech and language. They work together on skills such as listening, articulating, pronunciation, pitch, volume, fluency, word recognition, breath control, and more.
Your child with cerebral palsy needs recreational activities just as much as other children. Recreation helps your child relax and can help enrich their social life, which is important for their mental health.
Your child may not be able to participate in games and activities in the same way many of their peers do, but they can find ways to adapt the activities to their abilities. For example, the internet is replete with biographies of people who paint with their mouths or feet instead of their hands.
Your child may use an assistive device to perform creative works or a wheelchair to play basketball. By figuring out how they can participate in an activity, your child overcomes psychological barriers that might otherwise stifle their personal growth.
As your child grows, their mental health becomes a concern. You want your child to be happy. It may be a challenge for your child to look at their situation positively and be motivated to problem solve and not give up when tackling a new life skill or recreational activity.
If you notice mood changes, low appetite, fatigue, poor sleep, and/or social isolation, we can provide a referral to a mental health therapist.
Some children with cerebral palsy need orthopedic surgery to allow them more freedom of movement. If your child’s arm muscles are contracted so that movement is difficult, surgery can lengthen them. Spinal surgery can help improve a severely curved spine. Surgery can sever nerves that cause uncontrolled movements. We provide referrals for surgery when needed.