Following your child’s interdisciplinary assessment, the professionals providing care for your child will develop recommendations for treatment and therapy of his or her Cerebral Palsy. Many treatments are available to help a child function at the highest level possible. Although many treatments for Cerebral Palsy are available, we will touch upon a few of the most basic approaches used today to help children achieve their optimal level of functioning.
Since no two children are affected by Cerebral Palsy in exactly the same way, individual treatment and therapy programs vary widely. But because all children with Cerebral Palsy have movement problems, you can expect that an important component of your child’s Cerebral Palsy treatment will be a therapeutic exercise program. Depending on your child’s needs, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and a speech-language pathologist will work with your child to help him or her improve posture and movement.
At first, your child will likely see his or her therapist quite often, sometimes at least twice a week. As your child grows, he or she may need a less intensive therapy program. The therapists will probably expect you to work on the child’s movement skills at home, and will train you in special exercises and handling techniques. Because the time commitment to a Cerebral Palsy therapy program is tremendous, it is wise for both parents, or other caregivers, to be involved. In general, it is considered very early intervention if a baby begins therapy before six months of age. Most infants are not referred until later in the first year or sometime in the second year of life. Of course, the age at which your child is referred will depend to some extent on how quickly the physicians diagnose Cerebral Palsy, or other problems requiring therapy.
Researchers are still studying the long term benefits therapy can offer. But it is generally agreed that children who receive good treatment not only have fewer movement limitations, but also have better postures, better muscle development, and better abilities in toileting, feeding, and dressing themselves. Furthermore, therapy programs enrich the lives of children with Cerebral Palsy by enabling them to explore and experience activities that they might not otherwise be able to do independently.