Common problems related to cerebral palsy may develop, become more severe, or
complications. Treatment varies by the individual and
type of problem but generally can include medicine, surgery, specialized
therapies, and orthopedic equipment.
Types of surgery include:
- Orthopedic surgery to loosen tight
muscles, tendons, and joints, particularly on the hips, knees, and
- Selective dorsal rhizotomy to cut nerves on the limbs
that are most affected by movements and spasms, to allow more flexibility and
A doctor evaluates symptoms, age, and the person's
general state of health when considering whether to recommend surgery. A
thorough checkup is needed to help the doctor determine which muscles and
nerves are affected and what type of surgery would best treat the condition. A
gait analysis may be done to check your child's walking
Physical therapy is often used as part of ongoing
treatment. But its focus may change after surgery or for problems that are new
or getting worse. After surgery, specialized physical therapy may be needed for
6 months or longer.
Biofeedback may be useful as part of physical therapy
or on its own. During biofeedback sessions, people with CP learn ways to control their affected muscles. Although biofeedback does not help everyone with CP, some people
who use the technique learn how to control their affected muscles or reduce
Special devices and equipment
Many people with CP benefit from using something to
maintain or improve joint mobility, help strengthen muscles and relax
overactive (spastic) muscles, and assist with daily activities. Such devices
and equipment may include orthotics, casts, standers, special seats, walkers,
wheelchairs, special shoes, and other individualized methods to help with
Other therapies may also be needed
depending on the specific need that develops.
- Occupational therapy helps teens and adults adapt
to their limitations and live as independently as possible.
- Speech therapy helps control the mouth muscles. This therapy can be of great
benefit to children with speech or eating problems. Speech therapy often starts
before the child begins school and continues throughout the school
- Nutritional counseling may help when dietary needs are
not met because of problems with eating certain foods.
massage therapy and
hatha yoga are designed to help relax tense muscles,
strengthen muscles, and keep joints flexible. Hatha yoga breathing exercises
are sometimes used to try to prevent lung infections. More research is needed
to determine the health benefits of these therapies for people with
- Therapies to stimulate learning and sensory development may
benefit babies and young children. Some also help people of other ages. These
therapies cannot repair damaged parts of the brain. But they may be able to
stimulate undamaged parts of the brain.
- Behavioral therapy helps
some school-age children with CP learn better ways to communicate with others.
You may hear about a wide range of
controversial treatments, some of which may cause
harm. Do not be afraid to talk to your doctor about any type of treatment you
are considering for your child.