Caring for a Child With Cerebral Palsy
Occurring when the brain develops abnormally, cerebral palsy only affects about 30 to 50 percent of people cognitively. Children with severe cerebral palsy tend to be the most cognitively affected individuals. Physically, this condition involves an individual’s muscles, making mobility, posture, and balance difficult. Therefore, it hinders the ability to stand, walk, and have full control over the body. Cerebral palsy is a non-progressive disorder, meaning that as a child ages, their condition will not worsen. Exercise, occupational therapy, and strength training are all options to help with CP. Understanding this condition and various ways to treat it, reinforce the core, and improve muscle strength will assist in caring for a child with cerebral palsy.
Benefits of Regular Exercise
Regular exercise must start somewhere. Don’t be discouraged if your child is not able to do much at first. Working with an occupational or physical therapist will give you some insight into initial exercises that can increase mobility and muscle strength. Once your child starts to get stronger through regular training, you may consider adding more reps. As with any strength building, repetition is essential. Regularly scheduled exercise will help maintain flexibility as well as strength.
To build muscle, you will want to increase the difficulty of exercises as well as the number of reps. Several useful exercises that you may consider implementing are swimming and aqua therapy, stretching and yoga, aerobics, dancing, chair exercises, and supported movements, meaning that someone else is in control at first. Experts have deemed muscle gain and strength to have positive life-long effects for those with cerebral palsy. Some researchers strongly believe that strength building and regular exercise reduces the risk of chronic conditions later in life.
In addition to traditional therapy and exercise, some exciting technology has been developed to better serve the physical needs of individuals with cerebral palsy. Hippotherapy is a form of treatment that can be used for work done physically, occupationally, or related to speech. Hippotherapy simulation equipment mimics the characteristics of horseback riding. The movements support sensory and motor development for individuals with CP. This simulation equipment strengthens the core and assists with hip abduction, posture, and balance. And these are just some of the physical benefits! Chariot Innovations offers the MiraColt, machinery specially designed to imitate a horse’s walking gait and provide brain stimulation. There are many ways to care for a child with cerebral palsy. Combining therapy that helps with neuro and muscular functions is vital in helping children with CP reach their full potential. Understand that results take time and repetition. Stay the course and witness the benefits of combining various therapy options for your child!