Benefits of Physiotherapy for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of motor disabilities that limit a child’s movement, balance and strength. It is the most common childhood physical disability, and can have significant impacts on a child’s life. Exactly how the child’s movement is limited depends on the type of cerebral palsy they have developed.

There is good news. All three major types of cerebral palsy can be improved with physiotherapy. In fact, physiotherapy is a frontline treatment for all forms of cerebral palsy and should be started as soon as possible. Every child’s physiotherapy plan should be tailored to their diagnosis and their own physical performance, as determined by testing.

Types of Cerebral Palsy

  • Spastic CP: People with spastic CP experience muscle tension and jerky movements. Physiotherapy can relieve stiffness.
  • Ataxic CP: People with ataxic CP struggle with steady and precise movements.
  • Athetoid CP: People with athetoid CP experience both too much muscle tone and not enough, making holding objects and walking a challenge.

Any of these types of cerebral palsy may affect any or all of a child’s limbs. Thankfully, it is not a progressive disease, which means it will not get worse with time. In fact, physiotherapy can improve the physical capabilities of many children with cerebral palsy.

Physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy

A physiotherapist will personalize a child’s physiotherapy plan to their exact needs so each child’s plan should be different. Your child’s plan may include the following:

  • Weight exercises
  • Weight shifting
  • Closed kinetic chain exercises
  • Joint balancing
  • Therapeutic massage
  • Adaptive play
  • Heat treatments
  • Specialized equipment

The exercises and treatments that your child performs will change with their age and capabilities. Throughout your child’s physiotherapy treatment, your physiotherapist will regularly test your child to see if they are meeting their goals and improving.

Benefits of Physiotherapy

There are a huge range of physiotherapy benefits for those with cerebral palsy, children especially. Your child’s treatment may help them improve their:

  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Posture
  • Gait
  • Endurance
  • Pain management

Physiotherapy can also benefit your child if they have a co-morbid condition along with cerebral palsy. Common co-morbid conditions that can be treated with physiotherapy include:

  • Spine issues: Scoliosis, lumbar lordosis, thoracic kyphosis and other spinal conditions may also improve with physiotherapy.
  • Pelvic issues: Many pelvic issues are co-morbid with cerebral palsy, including vertical and horizontal contortions, protrusions to the front and back, and angled contortions. All may respond to physical therapy.
  • Joint issues: All the major joints may suffer from problems co-morbid with cerebral palsy, including hand and wrist deformity, shortened Achilles tendons and deformed knees. All may be improved with physical therapy.

Physiotherapy will also have benefits for your child’s overall health, as improving their movement, strength and flexibility are key to their daily living. They may walk better, have better posture, and have the muscle tone and coordination to participate in physical activities which they couldn’t previously.

Many children with cerebral palsy will become more independent and capable with physiotherapy and other treatments.

Physical Therapy from Meadowlands

If your child has cerebral palsy it’s important to start physiotherapy as soon as possible, so your child has the best chance of improvement. Reach out to Meadowlands today to get started.