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One Step at a Time – Cerebral Palsy

March is cerebral palsy (CP) awareness month! Today we are going to discuss cerebral palsy and how orthoses can help individuals with CP improve their quality of life. Ensuring mobility and independence is of utmost importance in order to optimize any child’s development including children with CP. Orthoses in particular can help to maximize physical development for children with CP. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that can appear in infancy or early childhood. The central nervous system is affected, resulting in permanent changes to body movements and muscle coordination. Some of the symptoms of CP can include:

  • lack of muscle coordination (ataxia)
  • stiff or tight muscle along with exaggerated reflexes (spasticity)
  • walking with one foot or leg dragging
  • walking on toes
  • crouched gait
  • scissoring gait
  • muscle tone that is too stiff or floppy

There is no cure for cerebral palsy, however there are many treatment options available which can enhance or better the individual’s life. Some of the common treatments include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, drugs to control seizures/relax muscle spasms/alleviate pain, surgery to correct anatomical abnormalities/release tight muscles, braces or other orthotic devices, wheelchairs, rolling walkers and other communication aids.

Due to the varying degrees of severity associated with this pathology, there are a vast number of orthotic treatments available. Orthotic devices work by:

  • providing a stable base of support
  • establishing efficient gait
  • minimizing the effects of spasticity
  • reducing excessive energy expenditure required to move
  • reducing hip and knee hyperextension
  • strengthening weak muscles
  • controlling/correcting muscular imbalances
  • correcting poor skeletal alignment
  • preventing further deformity

Some common bracing solutions include night time stretching splints to help overcome contractures, Lycra body suits to decrease tone, and upper and lower extremity bracing for proper alignment of the body. If you have any questions about cerebral palsy or how orthoses can help your child, please do not hesitate to reach out to our office!  We would be glad to answer any of your questions.

Katie Davis


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