Cerebral palsy (CP) is a group of neurological disorders that affect movement and coordination. The condition is caused by brain damage or abnormalities in brain development before, during, or after birth.
Physiotherapy plays an important part of supporting people with CP and managing symptoms related to movement, posture, and balance. Physiotherapy can help improve the development of motor skills and prevent motor problems from worsening with time.
What are the goals of physiotherapy for CP patients?
The main goal of physiotherapy is to help children with CP achieve their potential of physical independence and improve their quality of life.
- improve patients’ existing motor skills and help them develop new ones
- teach postural and movement skills
- provide support with sitting, movement, and mobility
- help strengthen muscles
- lessen pain
- support participation in sports, recreation, and leisure activities
How do physiotherapists assess patients?
Each child with CP will have different needs, so the physiotherapist does a thorough assessment by examining the child’s medical history and conducting a series of observatory tests. These tests assess various aspects of the child’s condition, including physical strength, range of motion, endurance, joint integrity, breathing, posture, flexibility, and balance.
The physiotherapist may also use the International Classification of Functioning, disability, and health – Child and Youth version (ICF-CY) document, which is designed to assess issues including muscle tone and strength, motor control, daily activities, quality of life, and outside influences such as family interactions. A treatment plan is prepared based on the results, and goals for improvement are set.
What happens during a physiotherapy session?
Physiotherapists can provide exercises to improve muscle strength, manage spasticity, prevent muscle tightening, and improve posture. Physiotherapists can also offer infants specific exercises to help them achieve greater mobility. They may also prescribe exercises for balance and posture, as well as stretches that can be done at home.
A physiotherapist may recommend and use assistive equipment or mobility aids such as braces, casts, splints, and shoe inserts to help with therapy.
What is the role of parents in physiotherapy?
The child’s parents play a key role in ensuring that physiotherapy is successful. Family and friends offer an important support network. Physiotherapists work closely with parents and caregivers, and teach them ways of making sure the child is able to perform the prescribed exercises properly. Parents’ constant interaction with the child and positive feedback while performing daily activities and exercises are crucial.