Physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy

preparing for crawling

Developmental stages are important with Cerebral palsy

As Theresa McGinn worked in Enable Ireland (The O’Neill Centre) when she first moved to Kilkenny from Cork, where she was Senior Physiotherapist in Neurology, she has huge experience in treating children with all neurological conditions including cerebral palsy. New staff in Kilkenny Physiotherapy & Sports injury clinic are trained up in teh treatment of young children with neurological issues such as cerebral palsy.

What is Cerebral Palsy?

brain training

balance training through reaching

Cerebral Palsy is a neurological condition which is caused by brain damage to the immature brain, that is in utero, at birth or in the first 2 years of a child’s life. It can effect muscle tone, movement, co-ordination and motor skills. It can present in a number of different forms.

What are the different types of Cerebral Palsy?

  1. Quadriplegia – affects 4 limbs
  2. Diplegia – affects both legs
  3. Hemiplegia -affects one arm and leg
  • spastic cerebral palsy: is the most common type and results in stiff muscles and exaggerated reflexes.
  • hypotonic cerebral palsy : where the muscle tone is decreased so the body becomes flopp
  • dyskinetic cerebral palsy: can be characterised by involuntary, slow movements of the limbs, or the trunk movements may be more affected than limb muscles causing a twisted posture
  • ataxic cerebral palsy: where voluntary muscle movements are not well coordinated
  • Cerebral Palsy: can also present as any combination of the above

How can physiotherapy help Cerebral Palsy?

working to gain hip extension control in a child with cerebral palsy

training hip control and balance in achild with cerebral palsy

Physiotherapists can help children with cerebral palsy get the most from their bodies in a number of ways. The treatment approach is based on the knowledge that the nervous system within the body is neuroplastic, that means it has the ability to change and grow, and to regenerate nerves.

It utilises the fact that the brain responds to input, so if the body is repeatedly taken through normal movement patterns the brain may come to recognise these as normal movement patterns, and so respond by growing neural pathways to control these normal movement patterns.