Cerebral Palsy (CP) is defined as an injury or damage to the brain that occurs during pregnancy, delivery or soon after birth.
Cerebral Palsy is a term used to refer to a set of neurological conditions that affect a child’s coordination and movement. It starts at birth and affects children and then adults throughout their life.
Known causes of Cerebral Palsy include:
- a premature or difficult birth
- infection during early pregnancy
- bleeding in the baby’s brain
- abnormal brain development in the womb
Different types of Cerebral Palsy
There are four main types of Cerebral Palsy:
- Spastic – where tight muscles cause limited movement
- Athetoid – uncontrolled movements, also called Dyskinetic
- Ataxic – problems with balance and shaky movements
- Mixed – a combination of the above types
If you have Spastic Cerebral Palsy, then you may also be diagnosed with one of the following depending on which areas of your body are affected:
- Quadriplegia – where all four limbs and the trunk are affected
- Diplegia – mainly the lower limbs are affected but sometimes the upper limbs and trunk
- Hemiplegia – where only one side of the body is affected
What are the symptoms of Cerebral Palsy?
The condition is not progressive. This means it will not get worse as a child gets older. However, the effects of the damage may not be evident straight away. They may appear over time as the child grows and begins to use their developing skills.
The damage may result in difficulties with movement, speech, vision and learning. This will vary greatly from person to person, and depends on the type of Cerebral Palsy you have. Each person is different and unique, and you might experience a number of symptoms ranging from mild to more severe.
Children and adults with Cerebral Palsy often have other related conditions or problems, including:
- learning difficulties
- skeletal deformities
- visual impairment
- hearing impairment
- difficulties speaking or understanding other people speak
- growth delays
- orthopaedic problems
There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, but a range of treatments can help relieve symptoms.
How can neurological physiotherapy help with Cerebral Palsy?
Neurological physiotherapists are specialists and trained to understand the effects and interactions of Cerebral Palsy. The physiotherapist can identify where to focus your rehabilitation, and work on areas and problems that specifically affect you, using targeted physiotherapy.
At your Initial Assessment, the physiotherapist will first assess you to gain a base line of your skills, and then advise you and your family or carers how best to help you improve your functional abilities and increase your independence and self-esteem.
We have Paediatric Neurological Physiotherapists in our team who specialise in working with children, so if the individual with Cerebral Palsy is a child, we can arrange for our specialist physios to work with them. The condition is more changeable in children who are still growing and developing, so we can help them to establish new and beneficial movement patterns.
The aim of physiotherapy is to help change abnormal postures and movements so that you can adapt more comfortably to your environment and develop a better quality of functional skills.
The treatment will aim to:
- maintain the length and flexibility of tight muscles
- maintain range of movement (ROM) in underlying joints
- strengthen the opposing muscles
- encourage and help you, whether an adult or child, to achieve new developmental skills within the constraints of your condition
Support for you, your family and carers
At Physio Matters, we understand that Cerebral Palsy can lead to feelings of frustration and reduced confidence for children, adults and those around them. You might find it difficult to do everyday activities, which can make life a struggle for you and those close to you.
We know how important it is to help you, your family or carers cope successfully with the long-term impact of Cerebral Palsy. We can support you and those around you by:
- working closely with other professionals you may need such as Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Orthotists, and Dietitians
- carrying out postural bed, seating and wheelchair assessments
- training your family and carers in manual handling – this involves safe therapeutic handling and positioning techniques to help with your movement and postural alignment, whether you are at home, school, work or elsewhere
- teaching your family and carers how to use hoists, slings and other equipment
- advising on the use of walking aids, splints, supports and home equipment to make life much easier