Cerebral palsy (CP) is very commonly associated with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), as the underlying hypoxic injury can cause the mobility limitations characteristic of CP. Not all children with HIE will develop cerebral palsy, but it is common enough that we decided to provide a cerebral palsy-specific guide to treatment.
The severity of cerebral palsy symptoms can range from very mild to very severe. Each child’s cerebral palsy can manifest differently, so it is important to discuss your treatment plan with a physician who can uniquely tailor it to your child. Because cerebral palsy impacts the ability to control muscle movement, it can potentially have impacts on all facets of life, ranging from mobility to eating and speaking. The following options are specific to the treatment of cerebral palsy:
Surgical Interventions for Cerebral Palsy
- Gastroenterology Surgery: Gastroenterological surgeries aim to improve feeding, digestion, and the functioning of the bladder and/or bowels, though much of the focus is on food intake.
- Hearing and Vision Correction Surgeries: Cerebral palsy commonly causes partial or complete vision and hearing loss. In some cases, glasses, contact lenses, or external hearing aids can help mitigate the developmental hurdles that vision and/or hearing loss can pose. When these aids alone are ineffective, however, surgery may be a recommended option.
- Orthopedic Surgery: This is the most common category of surgery that children with CP undergo. There are many different types of orthopedic surgeries, aimed at improving coordination, ambulation, and balance.
- Neurosurgery: The most common neurosurgeries for cerebral palsy include the insertion of a baclofen pump to continuously deliver muscle relaxants to the spine (with the purpose of spasticity reduction; see “medications”) and selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), in which sensory nerves are cut to decrease spasticity.
Medications for Cerebral Palsy
- Botox: Although Botox (botulinum toxin) is generally known as a drug used for cosmetic procedures, Botox injections can also be used as a treatment for people with cerebral palsy. Botox blocks nerve signals that tell muscles to contract or tighten, thereby providing relief from symptoms like pain and muscle stiffness.
- Baclofen: Baclofen (Lioresal) reduces spasticity and muscle tightness. It can be administered orally or via a baclofen pump, which is surgically inserted and provides a continuous feed of baclofen to the cerebrospinal fluid (SCF).
There are also many types of therapy that are not exclusively used to treat cerebral palsy, but are often beneficial to children with cerebral palsy. These include (among others):
- Physical therapy
- Behavioral and emotional therapy
- Sensory integration therapy
- Speech/language pathology
- Occupational therapy (life skills development)
- Massage therapy
- Recreational therapy
To learn more about cerebral palsy, click here.