Although cerebral palsy can be diagnosed shortly after birth in some cases, the majority of children with cerebral palsy will be diagnosed slightly later, which is generally before the age of two. In some instances, the confirmation can come even later. When the prognosis has been ascertained, your doctor will suggest a number of steps that need to be implemented, ranging from surgery to physical therapy. It's likely that physiotherapy will play a major role in your child's life during their formative years. How can physiotherapy assist a child with cerebral palsy, and what can you expect from the sessions?
Your Child's Development
Physiotherapy for a child with cerebral palsy is generally aimed at assisting aspects of your child's development which may be hindered by the condition. This can include the development of muscle strength while simultaneously decreasing tightness and the frequency (and severity) of any spasms in your child's muscles. The sessions are intended to improve your child's motor functions and coordination. Of course, the precise nature of the exercises and activities that will be utilised during the sessions are dependent on the severity of your child's condition and how your child responds to the treatment. There is no universal approach, and each case requires a different, specially modified version of the exercises and activities in question.
Naturally, you will want to be present at the sessions in order to support your child, but the presence of a parent or guardian at the appointments is crucial for the success of the therapy.
The physiotherapist will have questions about the child's progress outside of the sessions, with reference to any successes and setbacks. With infants who lack the necessary communication skills, you will be in the best position to answer these questions.
You will need to observe and learn some of the activities and exercises so that they can be replicated at home, as dictated by the physiotherapist. Watching the activities and exercises in action is the best way to achieve this and is more advantageous than simply following written instructions.
Your presence will also comfort your child, helping them to overcome any trepidation that they might experience. This is perhaps most relevant for particularly young children.
A multifaceted approach is required when a child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Physio is a critical element of your child's treatment, and it's something that your child will need throughout their formative years.