Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by an insult to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth.

Children with CP exhibit a wide variety of symptoms, including:


  • lack of muscle coordination when performing voluntary movements (ataxia);
  • stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity);
  • weakness in one or more arm or leg;
  • walking on the toes, a crouched gait, or a “scissored” gait;
  • variations in muscle tone, either too stiff or too floppy;
  • excessive drooling or difficulties swallowing or speaking;
  • shaking (tremor) or random involuntary movements;
  • delays in reaching motor skill milestones; and
  • difficulty with precise movements such as writing or buttoning a shirt.

Treatment

  • Physical therapy Specific sets of exercises and activities can maintain or improve muscle strength, balance, and motor skills, and prevent contractures. Special braces (called orthotic devices) may be used to improve mobility and stretch spastic muscles.
  • Occupational therapy focuses on optimizing upper body function, improving posture, and making the most of a child’s mobility. Occupational therapists help individuals address new ways to meet everyday activities such as dressing, going to school, and participating in day-to-day activities.
  • Recreation therapy encourages participation in art and cultural programs, sports, and other events that help an individual expand physical and cognitive skills and abilities.
  • Speech and language therapy can improve a child’s ability to speak, more clearly, help with swallowing disorders, and learn new ways to communicate.
  • Treatments for problems with eating and drooling are often necessary when children with CP have difficulty eating and drinking because they have little control over the muscles that move their mouth, jaw, and tongue. They are also at risk for breathing food or fluid into the lungs, as well as for malnutrition, recurrent lung infections, and progressive lung disease.
  • Drug Treatments: Oral medications such as diazepam, baclofen, dantrolene sodium, and tizanidine are usually used as the first line of treatment to relax stiff, contracted, or overactive muscles. Some drugs have some risk side effects such as drowsiness, changes in blood pressure, and risk of liver damage that require continuous monitoring., Oral medications are most appropriate for children who need only mild reduction in muscle tone or who have widespread spasticity.