There is no single “best” treatment for cerebral palsy (CP). Each individual with the condition will require a unique approach to their symptoms as no two cases are exactly alike. Babies and children with CP will use a variety of treatments depending on what type they have and the severity.
Any co-occurring conditions your child has will also determine which treatments will be most helpful. Some of these conditions may include:
- Visual impairment
- Hearing impairment
- Intellectual impairment
These conditions are commonly seen with cerebral palsy because they are also caused by the same brain injury that caused your child’s CP.
What to Do After the Diagnosis
According to Colorado Cerebral Palsy Lawyer, families of babies with CP “Need to prepare for a life they may not have been expecting.” No one expects their baby to have cerebral palsy, but the fact is it happens to thousands of infants every year.
It can be devastating to learn that you and your child may not have the future you envisioned. However, many individuals with cerebral palsy live enriching lives. Children with CP can play, make friends, learn, and even grow up to be independent. It all depends on their level of impairment.
Early intervention is the key to the brightest possible future. Your pediatrician will recommend specialists who can help your child to overcome their limitations.
Cerebral Palsy Specialists
You will work with a multidisciplinary treatment team to improve your child’s muscle tone and strength, to help them reach developmental milestones, and to have the healthiest possible life. These are some of the different types of specialists you may meet during your child’s journey.
Pediatric neurologists (also called child neurologists) are experts in treating kids with nervous system issues and brain damage. Children with cerebral palsy may have problems like seizures or headaches, and they may also experience developmental delays. A neurologist may order tests like CT scans, MRIs, or EEGs to investigate the cause of your child’s CP.
Developmental pediatricians can help you manage any behavioral problems your child is experiencing. Kids with CP can have emotional difficulties when they become frustrated over their challenges or their inability to play with other children normally. Some may also exhibit antisocial behavior when isolation causes them to be unable to be empathetic to others.
Physical therapy will be one of the most important aspects of your child’s treatment. A physical therapist will use exercises to help your child to become stronger and to improve their flexibility. They can also help them with balance and coordination. Some of the things a physical therapist may focus on include learning how to sit, walk, or use a wheelchair.
Occupational therapists use play to help your child learn, coordinate their muscles, and master basic tasks. Some of the things an occupational therapist may focus on include learning how to get dressed or go to school. This therapy is important because it gives children the tools they’ll need to become independent, which can have a big impact on their self-esteem.
In addition to these common types of therapy, your child may also see a speech therapist for any issues they have with swallowing and speaking. They may also benefit from recreational therapy that will use play to help them learn to be social and to develop. Children with hearing and vision disorders will also see an audiologist or a vision therapist.
Your child may also benefit from assistive technologies, orthotic devices, and other specialized equipment. In the most serious cases of cerebral palsy, children may also benefit from surgery to correct their spine or lengthen their muscles. You can expect the treatments your child receives to change as they grow older and continue to develop.