Cerebral Palsy is a neurological condition resulting from some form of brain injury affecting the brain’s normal abilities. “Cerebral” meaning from the brain, and “Palsy” meaning an inability to use some of their muscles in their body the normal way.
Approximately 5,000 new cases of cerebral palsy are diagnosed each year. Cerebral palsy is caused by injury to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth. Such injuries can be the result of the brain to develop properly (developmental brain malformation) and neurological damage to the child’s brain. Examples of such injuries that cause cerebral palsy, and its corresponding injuries, are: bleeding into the brain way of intraventricular hemorrhage, and poor oxygen to the brain by way of cord compression or strangulation.
Injury from such events can be varied and no two cerebral palsy patients are alike. The severity or neurological damage and subsequent injury is too varied. However, all cases are characterized by an inability to fully control motor function, particularly muscle control and coordination. Depending on which areas of the brain have been damaged, people with cerebral palsy may experience one or more of the following: Muscle tightness or spasm, involuntary movement, disturbance in gait and mobility, abnormal sensation and perception, impairment of sight, hearing or speech, seizures.
What can be done for treatment? A multidisciplinary approach is necessary to maximize neurological improvements and over functioning. Language and speech, occupational, sensory, and physical therapies are vital. Medications and surgery are also possibly included dependent on the patient. The earlier the patient can begin therapy the better the improved neurological outcomes.
In conjunction with all other therapies, osteopathic manipulation can be a valuable treatment tool. Osteopathic manipulation specialists believe the body has an innate ability to heal itself, that if structure can be optimized function will follow. The structure and function of the body is interrelated, and by using gentle hands on techniques to find body strain patterns and eliminate them, health will then follow in the way of decreased spasticity, increased joint and body range of motions, improved cognitive abilities, improved coordination and bowel functions. In general, overall improved health and well-being.
A study in Clinical Pediatrics in 2004 looked at 42 pediatric cerebral palsy patients who were randomized into two groups. There were those who were treated with osteopathic manipulation (23 patients) and those who were not (19 patients). Parents were to keep a log of physical, cognitive, and behavioral behaviors over a period of 24 weeks. Over the 24 week period, “21 of the 23 parents of the children in the osteopathic group reported improvement in their child during the course of the therapies.” In the control group, only 2 of 17 parents reported “general but nonspecific improvement” in any area.