There is no cure for Cerebral Palsy. There are, however, many treatments that can reduce the effects of CP and also help the child learn ways of adapting to the movement difficulties.
The main form of treatment is outpatient therapy. Children who receive a diagnosis of CP are usually referred for physical (gross motor skills), occupational (fine motor skills), and speech therapy as needed. The physical, occupational or speech therapist can also address any feeding difficulties your child might be experiencing. The type and degree of the CP will determine which forms of therapy are most necessary. It is important that you find a therapist who is specially trained in pediatrics as child development is unique and the needs are very different from adult therapy.
There is a variety of equipment that can help your child. Sometimes this equipment is needed for the short term until the child achieves certain developmental milestones, or may be necessary for the long term. Examples of equipment are:
Braces or AFOs – this is a brace that provides extra support to the child’s foot to assist with standing and walking. Some children will always need to use an AFO for extra balance and support, while other children only need it temporarily.
Walkers and Wheelchairs – These are examples of equipment that are helpful for children who need more support in navigating their environment. Walkers are helpful for those children who have more significant balance difficulties and need more support than a brace can provide. Wheelchairs are useful for those children who are not able to walk independently at all or for those children who have some walking ability but tire easily and need a wheelchair for longer distances.
There are also other types of splints and bracing that can help a child use his/her hands. Other treatments are available that can help improve the child’s muscle tone and lessen the effects of the CP.
It is important to consult with your specialist regarding what equipment and treatment options are available for your child. It is important to remember that not all treatments are appropriate for every child and that you participate with your specialist to achieve the most appropriate treatment plan for your specific child.