What treatment is available for children with Cerebral Palsy?

The type of treatment available for children diagnosed with cerebral palsy varies depending upon the type and severity of the condition with which they have been diagnosed. The four main types of cerebral palsy are:

  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, which affects coordination of movement. It usually affects all four limbs and the trunk. In addition, ataxic cerebral palsy is characterized by poor or low muscle tone.
  • Spastic Cerebral Palsy, which affects the muscles in that they become active together and block effective movement. This causes the muscles in spastic cerebral palsy children to be constantly tense.
  • Athetoid Cerebral Palsy which is marked by slow, involuntary muscle movement The slow movements associated with athetoid cerebral palsy usually affect the hands, feet, arms, or legs.
  • Mixed Cerebral Palsy which usually has both the tight muscle tone of spastic cerebral palsy and the involuntary movements of athetoid cerebral palsy.


Each type of the disorder elicits different symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of those with spastic cerebral palsy is stiffening and contracting of the muscles, which can lead to weakness of the limbs and sometimes even paralysis. It is important to try and alleviate these symptoms as much as possible to prevent further deterioration. Other common symptoms with all types of cerebral palsy include difficulty with movement, learning difficulties, and seizures, together with hearing and sight problems.

Some children born with cerebral palsy will require 24 hour care for their lifetime while others will have only mild symptoms and may not require any specialist care at all. Each child diagnosed with cerebral palsy will need to be individually assessed.  Many of those born with cerebral palsy will require some degree of care and support throughout their lifetime.

Multidisciplinary Team

It will usually be necessary to involve a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals to discuss an individuals needs and requirements. A structured plan can then be put into place to ensure that the child receives the appropriate care and treatment for their individual needs. While the medical care and treatment is obviously of paramount importance so as to ensure that the child can thrive and develop according to their own abilities; it is also vitally important that family members are also involved in the decision making process.

More often than not it will be the child’s parents who will be the primary carers and providers of treatment their input is essential.

No two children are the same therefore individual treatment programmes will vary. However, there are certain types of therapy and treatment that will usually be required Most children with cerebral palsy will experience movement and control of movement problems. A physical exercise programme is therefore likely to be one of the main components of any treatment plan.

Different Specialisms

Specialists likely to be involved in the treatment programme will include:

  • Physical Therapists: to construct a special exercise programme tailored to the individual child to help improve limb movement and to strengthen the muscles.
  • Orthopaedics: to assist with muscle, tendon and bone related issues.
  • Speech and Language Therapist: to assist in developing the child’s communication skills.
  • Occupational Therapist: to assist in teaching the child life skills at different stages in their life and development.
  • Social Worker: to ensure that the family receives any additional support and assistance they require from the wider community.
  • Psychologist: to assist with any psychological issues not only in relation to the child but also to help the family as a whole to cope with the additional demands and pressures of caring for a child with cerebral palsy.

The child’s needs and requirements will change as he grows and develops and at different stages it may be necessary to receive more assistance from certain areas of therapy than others.

In the early years it is likely that the child will need to see his physical therapists frequently, perhaps as often as twice a week. In addition to carrying out exercises with the therapists it will also be necessary to continue with the child’s exercise programme at home. The therapists will construct an exercise programme, which can be carried out at home and will show you how to perform the required exercises. Most children commence this treatment during the second half of their first year of life but the age of the child when they start treatment can vary depending upon how quickly their needs and requirements can be properly assessed.

Children who receive a well-structured programme of therapy will develop better postures and stronger muscles. They are also likely to have fewer movement limitations. As well as the physical benefits of therapy there are immeasurable psychological benefits. It is generally agreed that therapy programmes enhance the lives of children with cerebral palsy.

Head Injury UK: Here to Help

If your child has Cerebral Palsy that you believe may be a result of medical error or negligence, it may be possible to make a claim.  Compensation will not resolve the medical issues, but it may ease the financial burden by providing the money to pay for necessary therapy, equipment and specialist medical treatment.  If you would like to discuss a possible claim please contact Clare Langford who is a specialist cerebral palsy solicitor who will offer you further advice and information.

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