Cerebral palsy is a condition that affects coordination and movement. It results from brain damage that often occurs before or during birth.
There is no cure for cerebral palsy but, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are treatments available that can help patients manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Cerebral palsy often causes the muscles to become stiff. Certain medications can relax the muscles and prevent the nerve cells from over-activating them. Some of these medications are injectable while others are oral medications.
People with cerebral palsy may benefit from several types of therapies:
- Physical therapy works to improve balance and motor skills through specific strength training or stretching exercises.
- Speech and language therapy can help improve ability to speak or teach other methods of communication. Speech therapy can also help with swallowing disorders.
- Occupational therapy focuses primarily on posture and upper body function.
One or more of these types of therapies may form the foundation of an overall treatment plan for cerebral palsy.
Assistive devices include mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or crutches, as well as braces or orthotic devices that help improve muscle function and mobility. Voice synthesizers that help patients with speech difficulties are another example of assistive devices that may help people with cerebral palsy perform activities of daily living.
If orthopedic problems persist despite conservative treatment measures, surgery may lessen pain and improve mobility. Doctors may recommend surgery with caution for children with CP because of the long-term risks involved.
Cerebral palsy does not improve as a child gets older. However, early intervention can lead to better outcomes.