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Caring for Children with Severe Cerebral Palsy

When caring for children with severe cerebral palsy it is best to focus on symptom “management” through the proper treatment. Cerebral palsy is not curable, so the main goal is to alleviate symptoms and help the individual towards living as much of an independent life as they can. Even with severe cerebral palsy, this focus will help the child’s self-confidence and in turn make it easier on the parents or caregiver when caring for children with severe cerebral palsy.

Children with severe cerebral palsy usually suffer an increased incidence and severity of symptoms such as seizures and muscle spasms, muscle imbalance, emotional and psychological distress, speech difficulties, and other cerebral palsy symptoms. Caring for children with severe cerebral palsy requires a dedicated team of experienced medical practitioners.

The members of a treatment team caring for children with severe cerebral palsy should be knowledgeable professionals with a wide range of specialties. First, a physician with training to help developmentally disabled children will be selected. This physician will correlate all team members into a comprehensive treatment plan and follow the child’s progress over the years.

For treating mobility issues, an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in the treatment bones, muscles, tendons, and skeletal structures of the body, will be called on to diagnose or predict problems associated with cerebral palsy. In addition, a physical therapist will design and implement special exercise programs to improve movement and strength. Physical therapy programs use specific sets of exercise to work toward two important goals: preventing the weakening or deterioration of muscles following lack of use and avoiding contracture, in which muscles become fixed in a rigid, abnormal position.

Patients having difficulty with day-to-day living, school, and work can learn skills from an occupational therapist. Children with severe cerebral palsy often have trouble with communication, in which a speech and language pathologist can help. Social workers can also help with caring for children with severe cerebral palsy by locating community assistance and educational programs for patients and their families. In some cases a psychologist can help to help patients and their families cope with the special stresses and demands of severe cerebral palsy.

Behavioral therapy provides additional assistance in increasing a child’s abilities. This therapy uses psychological theory and techniques to help reinforce positive and discourage negative behavior. Regardless of the patient’s age and which forms of therapy are practiced, treatment does not end when the patient leaves the office. Caring for children with severe cerebral palsy is a full-time position. Individuals who have cerebral palsy and their family and caregivers are also key members of the treatment team, and should be intimately involved in all aspects. Family support and personal determination are the two most important factors when caring for children with severe cerebral palsy and toward achieving long-term goals for cerebral palsy children.

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