Facts about CP

 

Cerebral palsy can be classified into 4 different types:

  • Spastic, characterized by stiff movements and caused by damage to the motor cortex
  • Dyskinetic, characterized by uncontrollable movements and caused by damage to the basal ganglia
  • Ataxic, characterized by poor balance and coordination and caused by damage to the cerebellum
  • Mixed, a combination of 2 or more types of CP

 

Cerebral palsy is the most common childhood motor disability
1 in every 500 children who are born have cerebral palsy. Children can also die before birth. CP is commonly caused by bleeding in the brain, infections, seizures, premature birth or traumatic injury to the head. 

 

Cerebral palsy does not directly affect cognitive function
Cerebral palsy is a motor disorder, meaning that it specifically affects movement. Although 50% of individuals with cerebral palsy have a co-occurring intellectual disability, an intellectual disability is not caused by the same source of brain damage as cerebral palsy. 

 

Cerebral palsy is not hereditary
Cerebral palsy is not hereditary, so the chances of an adult with cerebral palsy passing down the motor disability to their child is the same as an adult without cerebral palsy. 

Progression

Every case of cerebral palsy is unique, and everyone will experience different motor impairments and associative conditions. CP can be effectively managed, and motor functions can be improved because of neuroplasticity. 

 

Many people with cerebral palsy can walk
Although cerebral palsy almost always affects at least one leg, 2 in 3 people with CP are able to walk. Assistive devices like walkers and crutches can help individuals with CP be more mobile, active, and independent. 

 

Individuals with cerebral palsy can improve motor functions
Cerebral palsy is a life-long condition, meaning that the damage to the brain does not go away. However, the brain has neuroplasticity, which is its ability to rewire itself and reassign affected functions to undamaged areas of the brain. 

 

Therapy at young age is the most important factor to improve outlook
Early intervention is key to improving motor functions because children’s brains have greater levels of plasticity than adult brains. Through intensive training that focuses on repetitions, individuals with cerebral palsy can promote neuroplasticity and improve their motor functions.

Alternative Therapies

For many children and adults with cerebral palsy, therapy programs are an essential part of managing symptoms and improving overall mobility. Doctors and specialists will often recommend starting with traditional CP therapy options, such as physical, occupational and speech therapy. These therapies generally allow for improved mobility, speech and overall independence.

However, each case of cerebral palsy is different. For this reason, your child’s therapy and treatment plan should be based on their individual symptoms and mobility limitations. Those with more severe types of CP or coexisting conditions may respond better to complementary or alternative types of therapy.

The medical term “Complementary and Alternative Therapy” describes a set of treatment methods that are not presently considered to be traditional CP treatment (i.e., physical, occupational and speech therapy). The term “complementary therapy” refers to therapy that is used in addition to conventional therapy. “Alternative therapy” refers to therapy that replaces conventional CP therapy. 

 

Complementary and alternative therapy options for CP include:

  • NeuroMovement
  • Hippotherapy
  • Music therapy
  • Aquatic therapy
  • Acupuncture

 

There are a number of benefits that stem from alternate treatment methods. Your doctor may recommend adding an alternative therapy program to your child’s existing treatment plan, or they may suggest utilizing another treatment method entirely. A CP specialist will be able to recommend the best therapy options available based on your child’s diagnosis, performance and progress.