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Webmaster | 22. July 2008 @ 16:02

Family members working together with health professionals can use home treatment to provide the best possible care for a baby or young child with cerebral palsy (CP).

Education and support for parents and family members

* Learn about the condition. Often the biggest problem for parents is fear of the unknown. Learn about the condition so you are best able to help your child. You may find local or national cerebral palsy organizations helpful, especially in dealing with the impact of daily emotional and lifestyle issues. Talk with your health professional or call your local hospital for suggestions. For more information, see the Other Places to Get Help section of this topic.

* Learn about your child's educational rights. Educational rights for disabled children are mandated by law in the United States. These laws include free early treatment programs, equal access to public education, and protection of the parents' rights to be fully informed about or disagree with educational decisions concerning their child. Contact your state and local education departments for specific information about these accommodations. In addition, vocational training may benefit some teens and young adults.

* Work with teachers and school officials. Work with your child's teachers, school administrators, special learning consultants, and school boards to develop the best educational plan for your child. A cooperative team approach helps your child realize his or her potential.

* Provide emotional support. The needs of a child with CP change over time. As children grow and become more aware of their physical limitations, they need to be able to talk about their feelings and how they are treated. It is sometimes easier for them to talk with someone who is not a family member. Ask your health professional about whether emotional counseling would benefit your child. In addition, include your child when making decisions about his or her health care.

* Take care of yourself. Get proper rest, eat well, exercise, and learn ways to cope with the challenges of raising a child with CP. You will be better equipped to help your child when you have physical energy and emotional strength.

* Help each other. The entire family is affected when one member has CP. Helping family members cope with this situation is important, especially for siblings. You can help prevent other children from developing unrealistic fears and concerns, feeling left out, or becoming overwhelmed.

Helping with daily routines

Each person with CP has unique strengths and areas of difficulty. However, most people with CP need ongoing help with:

* Feeding and eating. Cerebral palsy can affect jaw control and interfere with the ability to chew, suck, and swallow. Special utensils, such as plates that stick to a surface; properly positioning your child at meals; and serving soft or semi-solid foods, such as oatmeal, may be helpful.

* Using the toilet. Some people with cerebral palsy have stiff hip joints or similar problems that make using a toilet difficult. Others do not have dependable bladder control. Training from an occupational therapist and special undergarments are common ways to help treat this condition.

* Bowel elimination. People with CP often become constipated, making stools difficult to pass. Stool softeners and mild laxatives are frequently used for this problem. For information about preventing and treating constipation, see the topics Constipation, Age 11 and Younger, or Constipation, Age 12 and Older.

* Bathing and grooming. People with cerebral palsy who do not have control of their hands or arms usually are unable to groom themselves. Others can be taught some level of self-grooming through regular practice.

* Dressing. Provide clothing and shoes that are easy to put on and take off, such as those with zippers or Velcro.

* Dental care. Cerebral palsy can affect the jaw muscles, make teeth improperly positioned and prone to decay, and cause sensitivity in the mouth and tongue. Also, many people with CP find it difficult to use a toothbrush. You can help your child by providing special equipment, such as a mechanized teeth-cleaning water spray or electric toothbrush; buying toothpaste for sensitive gums; and making sure he or she has regular dental cleanings.

* Skin care. Drooling is common in people with CP, which can cause skin irritation around the chin, mouth, and chest. You can help prevent skin irritations and protect your child's skin by blotting rather than wiping drool, using absorbant cloths to cover the chest, and applying lotions or corn starch to areas that are prone to irritation.

* Speaking. Some people with CP have problems with the muscles in their jaws and mouth as well as hearing loss. These problems, alone or in combination, can make it difficult to form words. You can foster better communicate by speaking slowly, looking directly at your child during conversations, and using pictures or objects as you talk. Reading to your child is also important; using books with bright pictures may be most effective.

* Safety. People with CP are prone to falls and other accidents, especially if they are affected by seizures. You can take general safety measures at home, such as having heavy, sturdy furniture or not polishing floors to help your child avoid accidents. Also, use common sense and care around sharp objects, and never leave a person with CP alone while he or she is bathing.

Preparing for independence

Parents and other caregivers can help children with CP develop to their highest potential. One of the most important things is to help them learn to do as much for themselves as they can. A recent study found that most adults with CP (84%) feel that their parents overprotected them as children. 4

Teenage years

As your child approaches the teenage years and young adulthood, be aware of his or her changing needs.

* Teens and adults with CP need emotional support and understanding. Family members and other supportive friends and family can help them deal with the daily challenges of having CP.

* Gradually prepare your child with CP for independent living. Usually teens have learned to use their talents and strengths. However, they may need extra help and encouragement to prepare for additional expectations and responsibilities.

* Teens and young adults with CP may also need more guidance than other people their age in developing intimate relationships.

Parents must also recognize that they will need to change their own routines as their child with CP grows and develops. For example, parents may not be able to continue caring for a severely affected child who is growing tall and heavy. Parents also need to plan ahead for the time when their grown child with CP is not under their care. For more information, see the Other Places to Get Help section of this topic.


Of all children diagnosed with cerebral palsy, 90% live to adulthood (beyond 20 years old). 3 Preparing your child for adulthood takes careful planning. It also requires patience and resourcefulness on your part; do not abandon your efforts because of frustrating setbacks or obstacles.

* Encourage independent living skills. A time may come when you or other family members can no longer assist your child with CP at the accustomed level.

* Complications of cerebral palsy may develop and affect quality of life; in addition, some forms of CP are more severe and require special assistance. For these reasons, planning for an adult's current and future health care needs is important.

* Occupational therapy and similar programs may be helpful. Most adults with CP are employed, despite moderate to severe physical disability. In the United States, laws protect the rights of disabled people to find and hold employment (among other rights). Learn about the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. For more information about the ADA, see the Other Places to Get Help section.

* Older adults with CP may need extra help preparing for retirement.

About the author:Jerald Chan writes for where you can find out more about cerebralpalsy cure and other topics.

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Webmaster | 13. July 2008 @ 16:02

Physical Therapy: A physical therapist specializes in improving the development of the large muscles of the body, such as those in the legs, arms and abdomen (gross motor skills). Physical therapists help children learn better ways to move and balance. They may help children with cerebral palsy learn to walk, use a wheelchair, stand by themselves, or go up and down stairs safely. Physical therapists will also work on fun skills such as running, kicking and throwing, or learning to ride a bike. Physical therapy usually begins in the first few years of life, or soon after the diagnosis of cerebral palsy is made. These therapists use specific sets of exercises to work toward the prevention of musculoskeletal complications. An example of this is preventing the weakening or deterioration of muscles that can develop with lack of use. Also, physical therapy will help avoid contractures, in which muscles become fixed in a rigid, abnormal position. Physical therapy will help prevent muskuloskeletal problems, as well as helping your child perform common everyday activities.

Occupational Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Occupational Therapy: An occupational therapist specializes in improving the development of the small muscles of the body, such as the hands, feet, face, fingers and toes. These therapists also teach daily living skills such as dressing and eating, as well as making sure children are properly positioned in wheelchairs. They may teach your child better or easier ways to write, draw, cut with scissors, brush their teeth, dress, and feed themselves. Occupational therapists will also help your child find the right special equipment to make everyday jobs a little easier.

Speech and Language Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Speech / Language Therapist: A speech and language therapist helps develop better control of the jaw and mouth muscles, which can improve speech and language skills and eating abilities. They also help develop creative communication methods for those who can not speak. A speech and language therapist will work with your child on communication skills. This means talking, using sign language, or using a communication aid. Children who are able to talk may work with a speech therapist on making their speech clearer, or on building their language skills by learning new words, learning to speak in sentences, or improving their listening skills. Children who can not talk may learn sign language, or how to use special equipment such as a computer that actually talks for you.

Surgical Intervention for Cerebral Palsy

Surgery: Surgery is not always necessary, but it is sometimes recommended to improve muscle development, correct contractures, and reduce spasticity in the legs. Before selecting any surgical procedure, make sure the doctor thoroughly discusses the risks involved, long-term effects and postoperative follow-up. Also, always get a second opinion and speak with other parents whose children have had the same surgical procedure.

Children with cerebral palsy often walk on their toes. This may indicate a tight heel cord. When other treatments for this fail, such as splints and braces, surgery may help correct it by lengthening the tendon. This surgery may help improve the child's ability to walk, improve balance, and prevent further deformity. Surgery is also available to relieve spacticity in the legs and hips of children. This surgery involves identifying sensory nerve fibers being the spinal cord, and then selectively cutting those nerve fibers therefor reducing spacticity. Research on this surgery is still being conducted. The adductors are muscle groups that bring the legs together. If a child's physician determines that the adductors are causing deformities or problems with walking, he or she may suggest a surgical procedure to cut the tendon, which can release muscle contractures and improve mobility. Again, surgery may not always be necessary, but in many instances it can help your child achieve his or her optimal level of functioning.

Therapy and Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

Drug Therapy: Your child's doctor may prescribe drugs to prevent or control seizures associated with cerebral palsy. These drugs are very effective in preventing seizures in many children. Because there are different types of seizures, different drugs may be prescribed because no one drug prevents or controls all types of seizures. Such drugs may include Tegretol, Dilantin and Phenobarbital. Drug therapy can also help reduce spacticity associated with cerebral palsy. These drugs include Diazepam, Baclofen, and Dantrolene. If surgery is contradicted, these drugs can help reduce spacticity for short periods, however, their long term value is still being researched. Although drug therapy may not completely correct complications associated with cerebral palsy, evidence does show that it helps manage problems such as seizures and spactisity. Consult with a physician to find out if drug therapy is appropriate for your child.

Sensory Integration Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Sensory Integration Therapy: One other approach to help children with cerebral palsy achieve their optimal level of functioning is Sensory Integration Therapy. This therapy helps to overcome problems experienced by many young children in absorbing and processing sensory information. Encouraging these abilities ultimately improves balance and steady movement. Therapies include stimulating touch sensations and pressures on different parts of the body. With the use of certain items, such as Styrofoam chips, water, or textured toys, this therapy will also motivate children to learn sequences of movements.

Adaptive Equipment for Cerebral Palsy

Adaptive Equipment: Special equipment is also available for children with cerebral palsy. Because of the muscle problems children with cerebral palsy have, your child's doctor or therapist may recommend that they use some special equipment to help them get around or do everyday activities.

A Wheelchair is sometimes used when a child cannot walk. This will allow the child to move from one place to another. Many children with cerebral palsy can use their arms to roll the wheels of their wheelchair themselves, and can move around without much difficulty at all. There are also wheelchairs available that are motorized. This type of wheelchair has a motor that moves the wheels for the child. There may be a joystick on one arm rest that the child can operate on his or her own.

A Walker is a piece of equipment usually made out of light metal. It most often will have four legs that are adjustable in height. Some children with cerebral palsy can walk, but have poor balance and may fall. They use a walker to help them balance and get around without the use of a wheelchair. You may also see a walker with wheels on it, as well as a basket to put some of the child's belongs in.

Because of the fine motor problems often associated with cerebral palsy, children may have a hard time using utensils for eating. Special handles or grips are available for children who have trouble holding onto small objects, such as a fork or spoon. You may also find eating utensils that are specially designed for children with fine motor problems. They may be curved or bent, and are usually designed to fit the child's needs. Special grips and handles are also used on pencils and pens to make them easier for the child to hold and use.

Communication Aids are available for children who are hard to understand, or who have difficulty talking with others. A communication aid might be a book or poster with pictures that show things the child might want, or an alphabet board that the person can use to spell out their message. There are also computers that are used as communication aids that actually talk for the child.

About the author:Jerald Chan writes for where you can find out more about cerebralpalsy cure and other topics.

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