Cerebral Palsy

Most children with cerebral palsy are born with the disorder, although symptoms may not appear for several months. Some cases of cerebral palsy do occur in the first few years of life as a result of brain damage from an infection such as bacterial meningitis or a head injury. Symptoms of cerebral palsy may include lack of muscle coordination, stiff or tight muscles with exaggerated reflexes, foot dragging, and stiff or loose muscle tone. While there is no cure for cerebral palsy, treatment can make a big difference in a child’s life. Generally, the earlier treatment begins, the better. Treatment may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, seizure medication, muscle relaxation and pain relieving techniques, braces, and communication aides. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct anatomical issues. Physical therapy for children with cerebral palsy will focus on developing coordination, increasing strength, improving balance, reducing pain, boosting flexibility, optimizing function, and maximizing independence. Programs may include manual therapy, therapeutic exercises and stretches, ultrasound, and hot and cold therapy. All programs are customized to ensure the plan is addressing each child’s specific needs and goals. Aquatic therapy also may be beneficial because it allows the child to perform exercises in a soothing, comforting, and supportive environment.