The Different Treatments and Therapies Available For Children Born With Cerebral Palsy
Explained By A Medical Malpractice Attorney Serving Maryland, DC & Virginia
Cerebral Palsy is an irreversible and crippling condition affecting the brain. Unfortunately, it is a permanent condition for which there is no cure.
Treatment and early intervention is probably one of the most important factors in helping the individual with Cerebral Palsy reach their highest level of independence. The input and supervision of a trained medical and physical/occupation team is crucial in finding the best program for your loved one with Cerebral Palsy.
Keeping this in mind the type of treatment will vary with each individual, however, one of the mainstays of treatment is a good physical therapy program. It is an ongoing effort to prevent muscular atrophy, contraction of muscles and improvement of motor skills.
Behavioral therapy to discourage destructive and negative behavior is another necessity for some forms of Cerebral Palsy. Seizures and spasticity in the Cerebral Palsy patient more often will require some type of drug therapy program. Some extreme cases of muscle contractions do not respond well to other forms of therapy or treatment. In these cases, surgical procedures are performed where the tendons and muscles are surgically lengthened so that the individual may have some level of mobility.
While each specific therapy itself will help the individual, a comprehensive program developed by healthcare professionals in cooperation with the family is the best way to ensure that the affected individual will hope to reach his highest potential.
Physical therapy is more likely than not a necessity for individuals with Cerebral Palsy. This may involve the development of small motor skills, stretching, exercising and muscle strengthening. This is done to decrease spasticity and strengthen underlying muscles.
Reduction of spasticity has been found to improve range and motion and often times reduce deformity. With the reduction of spasticity and the improvement in range and motion, the individual can hopefully move on to an occupational therapy program.
Swimming is also an excellent form of therapy and sometimes the only form of therapy for some individuals. Exercise helps to deliver oxygen to the brain and relieve stress. Occupational therapy performed mostly on the hands and arms is mostly used to help the individual become acclimated to socialization. This is mainly so that the individual will learn the skills needed to function and become independent in everyday life.
Speech therapy is often necessary for some types of Cerebral Palsy. Communication is an important goal and many children have poor or uncontrolled movements in not only the muscles of their mouth and face but also of their tongue.
Another type of therapy falling into the physical therapy category is hippo therapy, also commonly known as horseback riding. The movement of the horse has been found to mimic the movement of the hips in children with movement dysfunction. An added benefit as well, is the bond the child often forms with the animal. The use of hippo therapy stresses the influence of the horse over the individual thus controlling the patient, rather than the patient controlling the animal.
Individuals suffering from Cerebral Palsy are commonly challenged in the cognitive process such as learning, listening and thinking. Usually the help of a learning disability specialist will greatly enrich the life of the patient.
These specialists can identify problems within specific areas and recommend early intervention prior to the child’s entrance into pre-school. This in conjunction with help from the family with an Individualized Family Services Plan, IFSP, will sometimes allow the child to be mainstreamed especially with the help of an Individualized Education Plan, IEP.
Attempting to mainstream the child does not come without its challenges while navigating thru the web of not only medical but also governmental issues.
Medical therapy is often used to reduce the effects of Cerebral Palsy such as spasticity and seizures. Medications can often make a world of difference in the life of a patient with Cerebral Palsy. Drugs such as muscle relaxants are used to help relax the muscles and relieve spasticity. Examples include Valium and Baclofen.
Dopaminergic drugs such as Sinemet and Artane are used to reduce the level of dopamine in the brain. The rigidity and abnormal movements can be greatly reduced.
Botulinum toxin type A commonly known as Botox is a relatively new therapy for patients with Cerebral Palsy. Much like it is used in the facial area to paralyze the muscles surrounding the forehead, eyes and mouth the drug is used to paralyze muscles of the arms or legs. This will improve the range and motion when used and increase mobility. This is often important when placing the child in a wheelchair or attaching braces to the individual. The injections are often somewhat long term (3 to 6 months) and alleviate the need for daily medication.
Lastly, is the use of anticonvulsants, which limit and sometimes stop seizures and often prevent recurrence.
Lastly and in severe cases of Cerebral Palsy surgical procedures may be necessary. Often tendons and muscles are lengthened to correct severe spasticity.
Dorsal rhizotomy is a procedure where certain nerves are severed at the root where they branch off from the spinal cord. This surgery has been found to work very well in reducing spasticity thus allowing the child to sit, walk and stand.
Ongoing treatment of individuals with Cerebral Palsy is specific to each individual. With the help of a trained medical and therapeutic team along with family cooperation, all of these treatments combined in a specific comprehensive program will help the individual reach their full mental, physical and social potential.
Obviously, this is a lifelong struggle for not only the individual but also the loved ones caring for the individual. The cost and commitment to treatment is tremendous and not to be taken lightly. However, the strides in medical care are great and rewarding.
The initial cerebral palsy consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your Maryland cerebreal palsy or Maryland malpractice case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. A lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations, so please call right away to ensure that you do not waive your right to possible compensation.
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