Physical Therapy & Cerebral Palsy

By Jeff Rasansky

Physical therapy is an important part of rehabilitation for many different conditions, but it is especially important in the treatment of cerebral palsy. In fact, it is probably one of the most important aspects of treatment for this serious condition. Physical therapy can help cerebral palsy patients improve functions such as standing, walking, climbing stairs, and reaching or operating a wheelchair.


The Role of Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Physical Therapy & Cerebral Palsy

Physical therapy involves working with cerebral palsy patients in order to train and strengthen their large muscles (arms, legs, and abdomen). The ultimate goal is to help the child maximize his functional control or to increase the gross motor function.

The goals of physical therapy include:

  • Development of coordination
  •  Building strength
  • Improvement in the child’s balance
  • Maintaining flexibility
  • Optimization of physical functioning levels
  • Maximizing independence

Benefits of a Physical Therapist

Anyone who has CP can benefit tremendously from physical therapy. Physical therapy can help those with cerebral palsy increase strength and improvement their capacity for movement in order to function at their highest levels throughout all of life’s stages.

There are several stages of physical therapy that will take place depending on the personal and unique needs of an individual. The physical therapist will coordinate a treatment plan with other health care professionals that may include speech/language pathologists or occupational therapists in order to ensure the program meets all aspects of the individual’s needs.

It’s important for those who have cerebral palsy to work with a therapist who is experienced in treating those with CP. It is also important for the physical therapist to be one who has the ability and expertise to treat infants and children. Some of the things a person must keep in mind when they are searching for a physical therapist include the following:

  • Make an appointment at a physical therapy clinic and inquire about the experience of the therapists in treating people who have physical therapy.
  • Make sure to describe the symptoms in great detail during the first visit. It’s also important to identify any specific actions that make the symptoms better or worse.

There are a number of goals therapists hope to achieve that include but are not limited to the following:

  • Increasing fitness
  • Increasing muscle flexibility
  • Helping the patient improve posture and gait
  • Reduction of pain and discomfort
  • Decreasing the potential for contractures and deformity of the bone

The above list only comprises a few of the goals therapists hope to achieve with physical therapy. It’s important to remember there are benefits to physical therapy not only for the children but also for the caregivers. When seeking a physical therapist, the most important preliminary goal is to find someone who specializes in the treatment of children with cerebral palsy.


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