Treating Cerebral Palsy
Although cerebral palsy has no actual cure, treatment can often improve a child’s capabilities. In fact, many patients can enjoy near-normal lives if their neurological problems are properly managed.
No standard therapy is right for all patients. Instead, the physician must work with a team of health care professionals first to identify a child’s unique needs and impairments, and then to create a treatment plan that addresses them.
In general, the earlier treatment begins, the better chance a child has of overcoming developmental disabilities or learning new ways to accomplish difficult tasks.
The members of the treatment team for a child with cerebral palsy should be knowledgeable professionals with a wide range of specialties. A typical treatment team might include:
• A physician, such as a pediatrician or pediatric
neurologist, trained to help developmentally disabled
• An orthopedist (surgeon) who specializes in treating
bones, muscles, tendons and other parts of the body’s
• A physical therapist who designs and implements
special exercise programs to aid in movement and
• An occupational therapist to help patients learn skills
for day-to-day living, school and work.
• A speech and language pathologist specializing in the
and treating communication problems.
• A social worker to help patients and their families
locate—and make use of—community assistance
and education programs.
• A psychologist who helps patients and their families
cope with the special stresses and demands
of cerebral palsy.
• An educator, who may play an important role in case
of mental impairment or learning disabilities.