What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a congenital disorder that affects movement typically diagnosed in infancy or around the preschool age. There are three types of Cerebral Palsy: spastic, athetoid, and ataxic. Although there is no cure for Cerebral Palsy, with therapy, child’s abilities can improve vastly to improve independence and quality of life. Signs and symptoms vary between but often include: poor coordination, stiff muscles, weak muscles, trouble swallowing or speaking that are affected by motor movements. Children with Cerebral Palsy may also have problems with sensory sensations, vision and often hearing. Impacted muscle and /or muscle control can affect an infant or toddler’s ability to roll over, sit properly, crawl on time as well as affect walking. Communication delays affect receptive and expressive language while motor delays can affect speech intelligibility and feeding skills.
Treatment Therapies at Kara Dodds and Associates
A child with Cerebral Palsy may need one or several different types of treatment depending on how severe the symptoms are and what parts of the body are affected. The treatment differs depending on the child’s specific needs but earlier therapies and treatments may help to improve function as the young nervous system and musculoskeletal system grow.
Speech Therapy: Speech delays are common as children may have difficulty producing sounds and/or talking due to poor muscle control of the mouth. Many children with Cerebral Palsy present with Dysarthria affecting articulation. Speech therapy targets improved oral motor skills as our therapists design programs to strengthen and improve motor coordination of the oral motor mechanism. These might include: lip rounding (e.g. blowing), range of motion tasks (e.g. cheek puffing, tongue curling), and lingual movements (e.g. lateral, vertical) to support placement and production of speech articulators for improved intelligibility. For some children, implementing an AAC (augmentative device) to support communication desires while expressive language emerges is used.
Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is one of the most important parts of treatment as it involves exercises and activities that can maintain or improve muscle strength, balance, and movement. Our therapists create programs to help a child learn skills such as sitting, walking, or using a wheelchair. For some children, implementing Orthotic devices (e.g. braces/splints) can help improve movement and balance. Other devices that can help with movement and posture include wheelchairs or rolling walkers in which our therapists support fit and function of these adaptions.
Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy is necessary because of the physical limitations affecting feeding, fine, gross motor and sensory regulation. Our therapist help support and teach children to do everyday activities such as dressing, feeding, utensil use and more. They target fine motor skills and improved educational access by improving use of writing (e.g. pencil grasps / slant boards). Gross motor skills are addressed with sensory integration issues so a child can improve attention to task and self-regulate better. Our team of pediatric therapist also work collaboratively together when implementing AAC devices when needed making a child’s life easier and supporting their independence.
Our caring, encouraging, creative, Speech, Occupational, and Physical therapists are dedicated to making a child with Cerebral Palsy therapy fun, innovative, and most of all functional as they reach their goals.