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Cerebral palsy treatment is a diverse field of study. With each case being as unique as the individual it affects, the type of cerebral palsy treatment a patient requires will vary from person to person. With over 800,000 children and adults in the United States alone affected by some type of cerebral palsy, an additional 8,000 children will be diagnosed each year. The diagnosis of new cerebral palsy patients is growing every year.
The focus of cerebral palsy treatment is on the individual reaching the highest level of independence. Accomplishing this level of independence will relieve stress on both the patient and the caregivers. Individualized plans for cerebral palsy treatment are based on the patientâ€™s needs and problems. A multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals involved with patients, families, teachers, and caregivers can develop a plan in all phases of planning, decision- making, and treatment.
One of the mainstay therapies for cerebral palsy treatment is physical therapy. Physical therapy is used to decrease spasticity, strengthen underlying muscles, and teach proper or functional motor patterns. The family and caregivers can be taught by the physical therapist how to help the patients to help themselves.
A cerebral palsy treatment that is used for fine motor skills and daily living activities is known as occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is used much in the same way as physical therapy, primarily focusing on the hands and arms.
Another cerebral palsy treatment is exercise therapy, which can greatly enhance the mindset of the patient and give them a great sense of accomplishment. Whether indoor or outdoor, exercise increases the amount of oxygen delivered to the brain and can alleviate stress. Swimming can be quite beneficial during cerebral palsy treatment, preferably in a warmer than average pool. Movements performed in water will be easier and more effective at exercising muscles. Recreational therapists are available to teach your child how to swim, which for some patients may be their only mobility.
Hippotherapy, also known as horseback riding, involves specially trained physical and occupational therapists in treatment for patients with movement dysfunction. The horseâ€™s movements benefit the patient and they can bond with the animal as well. Hippotherapy uses the influence of the horse over the patient, rather than the patient controlling the horse. This strategy is used as part of an integrated treatment program to achieve functional outcomes in cerebral palsy treatment.
Throat and tongue muscles may be affected as well, so speech and language therapy is available as a cerebral palsy treatment as well. Speech and language therapy is used for spoken and alternative types of communication, such as sign language or computers.
Therapeutic electrical stimulation (TES) is another cerebral palsy treatment, which is administered at night while the patient sleeps. The TES treatment has been proven to add more muscle fiber, but exercise and therapy must be used to teach the patient what to do with the newly strengthened muscle tissue.
A relatively new cerebral palsy treatment is the use of Botox, usually associated with wrinkle reduction in cosmetic surgery. Botox can be used effectively to reduce spasticity in muscles during cerebral palsy treatment. New studies also show that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO), during which pure oxygen in circulated in a pressurized tank, can restore function to nerve cells that border the area of brain damage, rejuvenating them to a functional degree.
Due to the specialization of these cerebral palsy treatments, all of these treatments are not available everywhere. These different types of cerebral palsy treatments are not necessarily going to be effective in each and every case of cerebral palsy treatment. Consult with your doctors and therapists, talk to people who have tried the treatment, and do your own research as well before deciding what cerebral palsy treatment is right for your child. With such a variety of cerebral palsy treatments, there is bound to be at least one than will enhance your child's life.