Cerebral Palsy (cont.)
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Cerebral Palsy Medical Treatment
While specific therapies help a child develop specific skills and abilities, the overall goal of treatment is to help the individual with cerebral palsy reach his or her greatest potential physically, mentally, and socially. This is accomplished with a variety of different approaches managed by a team of professionals. Care for people with cerebral palsy is complicated, requiring a number of different services and specialists. In some areas, care is available through a single multidisciplinary clinic that oversees all aspects of the child's therapy.
Rehabilitation: A comprehensive rehabilitation program may include physical therapy, use of special equipment, and spasticity treatment. This program is often overseen by a specialist in rehabilitation medicine (sometimes called a physiatrist).
Occupational therapy: The occupational therapist helps the individual learn physical skills he or she needs to function and become as independent as possible in everyday life. Examples are feeding, grooming, and dressing.
Speech/language therapy: This therapy helps the child overcome communication problems. Many children with cerebral palsy have problems speaking because of poor tone or uncontrolled movements in the muscles of the mouth and tongue. Speech therapy helps develop those muscles, improving speech. Speech therapy also benefits children with hearing loss. Children who cannot speak may be able to benefit from communication technologies such as a computerized voice synthesizer.
Vision problems: An ophthalmologist is consulted for children who have strabismus and visual problems.
Medical therapy: This encompasses treatment for all medical problems whether related to CP or not. Various specialists may be called upon to deal with specific problems.
Educational services: Many children with cerebral palsy, even those of average or above-average intelligence, are challenged in cognitive processes such as thinking, learning, and memory. They can benefit from the services of a specialist in learning disabilities.
Navigating all of these different services can be difficult for parents. The child's health care professional can refer parents to a medical social worker who can help them find and enroll in the services their child needs.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2015
Norberto Alvarez, MD
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