Cerebral Palsy Treatment and Therapy

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that can occur due to brain damage at birth. While there’s no cure for cerebral palsy, there are many forms of treatment and therapy that can help improve your child’s quality of life.

If your child developed cerebral palsy due to medical negligence or malpractice, compensation from a legal claim may help you pay for treatment.

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Find a Cerebral Palsy Doctor or Specialist

The first step to determine the best cerebral palsy treatment or therapy for your child is to speak with a doctor as soon as you can. They may be able to refer you to a cerebral palsy specialist, who can perform a thorough examination of your child's condition and offer medical advice to improve their well-being.

A cerebral palsy specialist may help:

  • Evaluate your child’s abilities and needs
  • Assess any risk factors or side effects of treatment options
  • Recommend a treatment plan

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Cerebral Palsy Treatment Options

There are many different kinds of treatment that may be effective for a child with cerebral palsy. The chances for success will depend on the severity of the symptoms and the areas of the body that have been affected. Each child will react in different ways to treatments, so it’s important to talk to your doctor or health care professional about the best path for your situation.

Even though there is no cure for cerebral palsy, available treatments may be able to help manage your child’s condition and improve their ability to function.

In addition to different types of therapy, treatment may involve a combination of:

  • Medication
  • Orthopedic surgery

Cerebral Palsy Medications

Certain medications can help with symptoms of cerebral palsy, like helping overactive or stiff muscles relax, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Medicine may also help with some of the abnormal movements that children with cerebral palsy often exhibit.

Some of the medications your cerebral palsy specialist may recommend include:

  • Anticholinergics – These are designed to reduce spasms and other uncontrolled body movements.
  • Anticonvulsants –  Between 25% and 48% of children with cerebral palsy have co-occurring epilepsy, according to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation (CPARF), so an anticonvulsant may be prescribed to help reduce seizures.
  • Muscle relaxers  –  Muscle relaxers are prescribed to help relax stiff or overactive muscles, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some are given by mouth, while others are given through either an injection or a pump implanted into the abdomen. These include Baclofen, Diazepam, and others.
  • Nerve blocks –  Nerve blocks are injections in a specific area to calm spastic movements, according to the Mayo Clinic. These often include Botox for cerebral palsy.

Cerebral Palsy Surgery

Cerebral palsy surgical treatment is typically used when other approaches don’t provide relief. If a child’s symptoms are severe, surgery may be an option.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), cerebral palsy surgery can help: 

  • Lengthen muscles that are stiff or contracted to lessen pain and improve mobility
  • Correct a substantially curved spine or place limbs in more normal positions
  • Reduce spastic movements or chronic pain
  • Improve a patient’s gait or how they appear to walk

One procedure is known as selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery for cerebral palsy, according to NINDS, which is designed to help improve communication between the muscles and spinal nerves, which may be effective in helping a child have more control over their movements.

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If you believe your child’s birth injury was the result of a medical mistake, an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer can help you understand your legal options.

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Additional Types of Cerebral Palsy Treatment

Although medication and surgery are the most common treatments for cerebral palsy, there are many other types of treatment that may help relieve symptoms, including:

  • Stem cell treatment
  • Botox injections
  • Massage treatment
  • Natural treatment options

Stem Cell Treatment for Cerebral Palsy

Stem cells are often referred to as the “raw materials” from which the body is made. They are basically the cells that create all other cells with specific functions. Research indicates that stem cells may hold great promise for a wide range of medical treatments, including cerebral palsy treatment, according to the Mayo Clinic.

There’s some evidence that stem cells from the mother’s umbilical cord could help repair tissue that has been damaged, especially nervous tissue found in both the spinal cord and brain, according to the Mayo Clinic. These stem cells may also promote blood vessel growth and brain repair.

Botox Cerebral Palsy Treatment

Botox (also known as the botulinum toxin) is an injectable drug that blocks communication between muscles and nerves. As a result, it can help muscles relax and relieve tightness as well as help with drooling in some cases.

One study published in Child’s Nervous System, a pediatric neurosurgery journal, found that injecting children with cerebral palsy with Botox could help improve movement and muscle tone. There were long-term benefits to Botox injections, whether children have muscle impairment in all limbs or just the limbs on one side of the body.

The improvements from Botox were maintained over a period of years, according to this study, and the positive effects of a single injection lasted as long as three months.

Cerebral Palsy Massage Treatment

Massage may also be an effective treatment for children diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Researchers have found that massage could help reduce muscle stiffness and improve motor function, according to a study published in the journal Early Child Development and Care.

Massage helps increase the flow of blood to the extremities. As a result, it promotes both wound healing and tissue growth. There’s also evidence that massage can improve the quality of sleep for children with cerebral palsy, according to a survey published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.

Cerebral Palsy Natural Treatment Options

According to one National Center for Biotechnology Information study, a combination of acupuncture and physical therapy can help:

  • Improve motor function in children with cerebral palsy
  • Reduce muscle spasms
  • Enhance the child’s quality of life

However, larger-scale studies will be needed in order to truly verify that acupuncture therapy can help people with cerebral palsy.

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Types of Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

There are a variety of different types of therapy that can help children suffering from cerebral palsy gain a greater sense of independence and improve their overall quality of life, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Cerebral palsy therapy options often include:

  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech or language therapy
  • Recreational therapy

In some instances, just one form of therapy can provide benefits, but in many cases, a combination of different therapies may be most effective.

Cerebral Palsy Physical Therapy

According to NINDS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical therapy typically consists of different types of activities and exercises that are designed to help improve your child’s:

  • Balance and coordination
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Gait
  • Mobility
  • Motor development
  • Posture
  • Strength

A physical therapist might utilize some of the following activities for children with cerebral palsy:

  • Strength training – Research shows strengthening specific muscles affected by cerebral palsy can be beneficial, though long-term programs deliver the best results, according to a study in the Journal of Child Neurology. Training for only a few weeks does not appear to lead to significant lasting changes.
  • Treadmill training – Treadmill training can provide marked improvement in functions like standing, walking, and running, according to a Journal of Child Neurology study.
  • Orthotic devices – These special braces may be used to help stretch spastic muscles and improve overall mobility, according to NINDS.

Cerebral Palsy Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy for cerebral palsy focuses on helping the child care for themselves and make the most out of their limited mobility by addressing areas like posture improvement and maximizing upper body functioning, according to the Cerebral Palsy Research Network.

Occupational therapy focuses on helping a patient perform everyday tasks, while physical therapy is designed to help a patient move or control a certain part of the body.

For children with cerebral palsy, occupational therapists utilize activities to help improve their:

  • Ability to function independently
  • Strength and muscle tone
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Visual perceptual skills
  • Sensory processing skills

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Cerebral Palsy Speech Therapy

The main goal of speech therapy is to help a child with cerebral palsy be able to communicate, share their needs, and interact with others. Children with cerebral palsy often have difficulty speaking because they can’t control their face and throat muscles.

According to the Mayo Clinic, speech therapy may be able to help children with cerebral palsy:

  • Articulate and pronounce words more clearly
  • Chew and swallow
  • Communicate more efficiently
  • Control their breathing, speech volume, and pitch
  • Develop their language and vocabulary
  • Understand words more easily

Speech therapists often utilize communication devices, one of which is a board that has pictures of common objects and activities on it. Children then point to a specific symbol to communicate what they want, which helps improve their word comprehension as well as word-object association. Sign language is also a part of speech therapy.

Cerebral Palsy Recreational Therapy

There are many different forms of recreational therapy, which use different types of activities to help the psychological and physical health of people with cerebral palsy.

Recreational therapy can include arts and crafts, sports, animals, music and more, with the goal of improving not only physical performance, but also cognitive, emotional and social skills, according to the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification.

According to the Mayo Clinic, recreational therapy for cerebral palsy can help:

  • Build confidence
  • Promote socialization
  • Improve cognitive and motor skills
  • Reduce depression

Get Help with the Costs of Cerebral Palsy Treatment

Cerebral palsy treatment and care can be expensive, adding up to nearly $1 Million over the course of your child’s lifetime, according to the CDC — and many families aren’t able to cover the costs out of pocket.

Sokolove Law may be able to help you secure compensation to cover the costs of treatments and give your child the best quality of life possible. We’ve helped families impacted by birth injuries recover over $709 Million over the last 40 years, and we may be able to help you too.

Get a free case review today to learn more about your legal options and how we may be able to help.

Cerebral Palsy Treatment and Therapy FAQs

How can cerebral palsy be treated?

There are many ways that doctors can treat cerebral palsy to help relieve discomfort and improve a child’s quality of life. The main forms of treatment are medications and surgery as well as a combination of different therapies, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Surgery may be an option in more severe cases, particularly if your child has extremely stiff muscles, a curved spine, or nerve issues that lead to abnormal movement.

How can I pay for cerebral palsy treatment?

If your child’s cerebral palsy could have been caused by medical negligence, you may be able to get help paying for their treatment by filing a lawsuit. Talk to Sokolove Law today to learn more about your options.

What is the newest treatment for cerebral palsy?

New treatments or alternative therapies for cerebral palsy continue to be developed over time. One example of a newer treatment is deep brain stimulation. According to a study in the Journal of Hand Therapy, deep brain stimulation is performed by inserting electrodes into the brain and sending electrical pulses to areas of the brain affected by cerebral palsy. This procedure is designed to help children suffering from the involuntary twisting of muscles as well as repetitive motions that are typically associated with the condition.

Can cerebral palsy be cured? 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cerebral palsy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, through cerebral palsy treatments and cerebral palsy therapy, there are ways many children can find at least a measure of relief from their discomfort.

How do you manage cerebral palsy? 

Managing cerebral palsy often involves both treatment and therapy. Certain medications can be used to help with relieving pain or other types of discomfort. Physical therapy is sometimes used to help strengthen muscles affected by the condition and can have psychological benefits as well, according to the CDC.

Does cerebral palsy get worse with time?

Cerebral palsy does not get worse with time, according to the CDC. However, symptoms of the condition may change over time. Different children experience different symptoms — some may not be able to walk and may need a lifetime of care. Others might only be slightly affected and won’t need much help at all.

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Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: September 9, 2021

  1. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "What are common treatments for cerebral palsy?" Retrieved from: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/cerebral-palsy/conditioninfo/treatments. Accessed on June 17, 2021.
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH).“Cerebral Palsy: Hope Through Research.” Retrieved from: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Cerebral-Palsy-Hope-Through-Research#3104_17. Accessed on June 17, 2021.
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  5. Mayo Clinic. “Stem cells: What they are and what they do.” Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/bone-marrow-transplant/in-depth/stem-cells/art-20048117. Accessed on June 17, 2021.
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  7. Early Child Development and Care. "Cerebral palsy symptoms in children decreased following massage therapy." Retrieved from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0300443042000230546. Accessed on July 14, 2021.
  8. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. “Survey of the Use of Massage for Children with Cerebral Palsy.” Retrieved from: https://ijtmb.org/index.php/ijtmb/article/view/47/141. Accessed on July 14, 2021.
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information. "Acupuncture for cerebral palsy: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials." Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6022466/. Accessed on July 14, 2021.
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