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Cerebral Palsy Treatment

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What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy, or CP, is a group of disorders that affect balance, movement, and muscle tone. “Cerebral” means the disorder is related to the brain, and “palsy” refers to a weakness or a muscle problem.

Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

Signs and symptoms can vary greatly. Movement and coordination problems associated with cerebral palsy may include:

  • Variations in muscle tone, such as being either too stiff or too floppy
  • Stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity)
  • Stiff muscles with normal reflexes (rigidity)
  • Lack of muscle coordination (ataxia)
  • Tremors or involuntary movements
  • Slow, writhing movements (athetosis)
  • Delays in reaching motor skills milestones, such as pushing up on arms, sitting up alone or crawling
  • Favoring one side of the body, such as reaching with only one hand or dragging a leg while crawling
  • Difficulty walking, such as walking on toes, a crouched gait, a scissors-like gait with knees crossing, a wide gait or an asymmetrical gait
  • Excessive drooling or problems with swallowing
  • Difficulty with sucking or eating
  • Delays in speech development or difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty with precise motions, such as picking up a crayon or spoon
  • Seizures

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HOW IS CEREBRAL PALSY DIAGNOSED?

Doctors diagnose cerebral palsy by:

  • Testing motor skills and reflexes
  • Looking into medical history
  • Employing a variety of specialized tests.

Although its symptoms may change over time, cerebral palsy by definition is not progressive, so if a patient shows additional medical issues, the problem may be something other than cerebral palsy.

HOW IS CEREBRAL PALSY TREATED?

There is no standard therapy that works for all children with cerebral palsy. Some of the therapies used to treat children with cerebral palsy include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Oral medications
  • botulinum toxin
  • Speech therapy
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Drugs used to control seizures and muscle spasms
  • Special braces or orthotics can compensate for muscle imbalance
  • Splinting to improve muscle function
  • Orthopedic surgery to correct contractures or improve function
  • Counseling for emotional and psychological needs