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Cerebral Palsy


The neurological physiotherapists at Liverpool Neuro Physio treat conditions such as cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain and causes altered movement patterns, posture and co-ordination.



What is cerebral palsy?


Cerebral palsy is the loss of movement, posture or co-ordination due to damage to part of the brain. Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term that describes not just one but multiple conditions. Cerebral palsy occurs when there is damage to the brain. Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the brain before, during or after birth. This could be due to premature birth, lack of oxygen in the blood, infection during pregnancy and abnormal development of the brain. Cerebral palsy is not a progressive disorder.


Physiotherapy is beneficial for anyone who has cerebral palsy.


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Types of cerebral palsy?


There are various types of cerebral palsy. These include: Spastic cerebral palsy

Spastic cerebral palsy is the most common type. The main characteristic of spastic cerebral palsy is 'stiff' muscles and joints which causes a decrease in the range of movement. The amount of spasticity in each individual can vary. 'Diplegic' cerebral palsy affects both legs, 'hemiplegic' cerebral palsy affects all four limbs.

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy

Dyskinetic cerebral palsy is associated with movement. Those who suffer with dyskinetic cerebral palsy may have either increased muscle tone or reduced muscle tone. These individuals may have random uncontrolled muscle movement.

Ataxic cerebral palsy

People who have ataxic cerebral palsy find it difficult to control fine movements and balance. Ataxic cerebral palsy sufferers have poor spatial awareness (awareness of space around them). Muscle one is usually reduced in these people.

Mixed cerebral palsy

Some people have a mix of the above types of cerebral palsy. They have stiffness in their muscles combined with involuntary movement.


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Effects of cerebral palsy


The effects of cerebral palsy differs in every individual. Cerebral palsy can vary from mild, moderate or severe. The main effects of cerebral palsy include:

Spasticity

Increased muscle tone known as hypertonia. Those with spastic cerebral palsy are more prone to spasticity.

Contractures

If spastic muscles are not stretched to maintain their length it can lead to a person developing muscle contractures. Contractures occur mainly in spastic cerebral palsy.

Stiffness

A person suffering from spasticity in their muscles will develop stiffness in their joints if they do not continue with stretching exercises.

Walking difficulty

Most cerebral palsy sufferers have either hypertonia (increased muscle tone), hypotonia (decreased muscle tone) or involuntary movement and these will cause disruption to their walking pattern. All cerebral palsy sufferers find it more difficult to walk. As they get older they will walk with altered walking patterns.

Hypotonia (decreased muscle tone)

Some cerebral palsy sufferers suffer with a reduction in muscle tone before having an increase in muscle tone. This is more associated with dyskinetic cerebral palsy.

Involuntary movement/ tremors

Involuntary movements/ tremors are mostly associated with dyskinetic cerebral palsy. The muscles will alternate between floppy and tense. The involuntary movement may become worse when the individual is attempting to perform a task. Muscles will only be fully relaxed when the individual is asleep.


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Physiotherapy treatment for cerebral palsy


The physiotherapists at Liverpool Neuro Physio commonly treat adults and children with cerebral palsy. The physiotherapists will work with each individual aiming to improve their quality of life. Your physiotherapist will produce a treatment plan to allow you to achieve your goals and aims.

Physiotherapy treatment will use a variety of methods that may include heat, exercise, massage therapy, stretching, positioning, Bobath techniques and other treatments. Physiotherapy treatment will vary from person to person depending on the severity and type of cerebral palsy you may be suffering. Some of the physiotherapy treatment for cerebral palsy may include:


Physiotherapy allow individuals with cerebral palsy to improve movement and motor skills and increase mobility. Physiotherapy for cerebral palsy generally focuses on the gross motor (major muscle) movements; this will help the person with balance and postural control.


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Physiotherapy for adults with cerebral palsy


Physiotherapy treatment will differ from individual to individual depending on their symptoms. Children differ to adults in their presenting symptoms. Cerebral palsy is not a progressive disorder but people with cerebral palsy get older they can develop problems due to muscle tightness/ weakness. The main goals of physiotherapy treatment will be to maintain range of movement, increase strength, prevent muscle stiffness and weakness from occurring and prevent any contractures from developing.

Your physiotherapist will aim to decrease any muscle spasticity and prevent you from developing contractures. This will in turn reduce your pain. Exercises and stretching methods do not always have to be carried out by the physiotherapist. Your physiotherapist can teach your programme to family and/or carers. This will ensure physiotherapy treatment can continue between sessions to maximise your well-being. Physiotherapy will also help maintain range of movement at your joints to reduce the chances of stiffness occurring.

Physiotherapy treatment may include assessments for adaptive equipment that may be needed. Adaptive equipment may be provided by your physiotherapist to assist in your movement with a view to increasing your independence. Advice and guidance on different equipment such as wheelchairs, walking frames and sticks and home adaptations may be given to you by your physiotherapist.

At Liverpool Neuro Physio all of our physiotherapists understand that mobility may be one of your main areas of concern. Your physiotherapist will provide you with specific exercise programmes which may incorporate specific physiotherapy techniques to help you to gain maximum mobility. We understand that many individuals with cerebral palsy find their disability frustrating. We aim to help you as much as possible to gain the maximum quality of life. Due to the nature of cerebral palsy it will take more than one session to improve. Continued treatment may be required before the differences in your muscles or flexibility are present.


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Physiotherapy for children with cerebral palsy


Physiotherapy for children with cerebral palsy will work more toward the child's normal development and it will work towards your child reaching certain milestones such as lying, rolling, sitting and standing. It is important for your child to continue with physiotherapy treatment to maximise the amount of movement they can have whilst developing and growing.

Your child's physiotherapist will attempt to make their sessions as enjoyable as possible. This may be by using hydrotherapy techniques or incorporating specific games that will work on their movement patterns. This should help to encourage and motivate your child with their physiotherapy.

Your child's physiotherapist will have very good understanding of the physical problems your child will be experiencing and will know the correct exercise and physiotherapeutic techniques to maximise their quality of life and make them as independent as they need to be.

It is extremely important for your child to pursue physiotherapy to help them reach certain milestones. If they do no they may find it difficult to get good range of movement or continue independently as they grow older.


To arrange an appointment or to speak to one of our specialists, call us on 0151 558 0188 or email office@liverpoolneurophysio.co.uk.


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