An estimated half a million American children and adults have some form of cerebral palsy (CP). Symptoms can range widely, from mild cases such as joint stiffness or a slight limp to severe cases that make it difficult (or impossible) for a person to walk, intellectual development challenges and seizures.
Fortunately, medical technology and treatments have come a long way in recent years, making it possible for individuals with CP and their families to better manage the symptoms of their disorder.
In our first-ever scholarship essay contest, we asked eligible college students to highlight some of the most innovative and exciting modern therapies, treatments and activities available for children with cerebral palsy and their families.
While we could only award 1 student the $1,000 scholarship prize, we received so many awesome essays from students all across the country that we wanted to feature some of our favorite submissions on our blog as well. The treatments and therapies specifically mentioned below include:
- Umbilical cord blood (UCB) therapy
- Play therapy
- Functional electrical stimulation
- Self-Initiated Prone Progressive Crawler (SIPPC)
- Bobath therapy
- Context therapy
- Brick (Lego) therapy
- Aquatic therapy
- Assistive technology devices
- Music/art therapy
- Social media therapy
- DNA sequencing
- Hyperbaric oxygen treatment
- Nuk brush
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Video/computer game therapy
- Support groups
- Eyegaze (eye movement tracking technology)
- Artificial muscle
- Equine therapy (or “hippotherapy”)
- Speech therapy
Continue reading to see how college students responded to our prompt question, starting with our scholarship winner.
ESSAY QUESTION: WHAT INNOVATIVE THERAPIES AND ACTIVITIES IMPROVE THE LIVES OF CHILDREN WITH CEREBRAL PALSY AND THEIR FAMILIES?
“Umbilical cord blood (UCB) is an interest for scientists working toward management and treatment of cerebral palsy in children… Compared to other treatments, the use of UCB stem cells offers greater safety, efficacy, financial accessibility, and regulation of potential side effects. Jiao et al. (2019) states, ‘72.8% of patients with cerebral palsy benefit from UCB-related cell therapy.’ Improvements vary, but the smallest change can positively influence the life of a person with cerebral palsy.
Using UCB stem cells as a therapy for cerebral palsy in children is a relatively new approach for increased autonomy. Greater success involves reducing treatment drawbacks. Cost must be lowered so all families can afford the care and side effects must be reduced or eliminated. While this is not a cure, the implementation of UCB stem cell therapy in conjunction with traditional treatments shows potential for improving the lives of children with cerebral palsy and their families.”
Amanda Jewell from Western Governors University:
“There is a blanket term out there called Play Therapy. This type of therapy is both therapeutic and psychological for the child suffering from cerebral palsy. Unlike most children, children with cerebral palsy encounter obstacles in acting on their impulses to play. Playing can bring the most joy out of any child, it allows them to build self-confidence, learn to interact with others and also learn about themselves through experiences. Playing is hardwired into every child’s brain, some just have a tougher time than others.”
Maddie Garrey from Willamette University College of Law:
“Mobility is a huge factor for most patients suffering with Cerebral Palsy. Lifts and power scooters are fairly common options for those patients struggling with mobility. A new and exciting technology designed for aiding individuals with increased mobility is called functional electrical stimulation. In this process, a small device is used to deliver electrical impulses to stimulate specific muscles. These impulses activate nerves and cause muscle movement. These movements are said to help train the muscles to function more effectively over time.
For new parents to see their child learning to crawl for the first time, this enabling technology can make a world of difference. Similarly, technology that allows a child with spastic palsy to get around more easily and with less pain can be life changing for the family members responsible for caring for them.”
Payton Cassel from Ohio State University:
“Advancements in robotics have made it possible for babies with cerebral palsy to crawl, allowing babies to stimulate their minds through exploration and independent movements. This device is known as the Self Initiation Prone Powered Crawler, which is just the beginning of robotic development in cerebral palsy patients. Scientists believe this technology will one day develop into robotics that allows patients with cerebral palsy to walk. These could significantly improve the ability of those with gait impairments to move around in their environments. Other advancements in technology have not only helped those with cerebral palsy but their families too.”
Christoph Dünhuber from USC Marshall School of Business:
“Since the causes of cerebral palsy cannot be eliminated, treatment always aims to improve the musculoskeletal system’s function and treat possible accompanying symptoms such as speech or swallowing difficulties. Physiotherapy plays a significant role in the treatment of such disorders. In particular, the so-called Bobath concept applied to children of all ages has proven successful. Bobath therapy focuses on targeted support by reaching the open channels of the young patient. If a child does not speak but is interested in eye contact, the therapist will create a therapy concept based on this open channel. Bobath therapy is always built on individually designed exercises and techniques that focus on the child’s motivation. Manual treatments and the Vojta method, which works out elementary movements with patients through so-called reflex locomotion, are also remarkably successful in treating cerebral palsy.”
Trinity Willsey from Washington State University:
“A fairly new intervention approach serves to adjust surrounding environments rather than a child’s condition. The ‘context therapy approach’ emphasizes the importance of family involvement and setting goals. When a child begins to experiment with different motor skills, parents and guardians are urged to encourage such behaviors. Three step goals are formed to increase therapist and parent involvement. A timeline can be set and once a child completes a set of goals, they are encouraged to continue similar behaviors to increase cognitive function and increase motor control.”
Fran Thompson from University of Georgia:
“When you think about therapy between a child and their parent, you want to make it engaging, purposeful and fun. It should not feel like a task that must be accomplished, but more so it should feel like an activity that makes you stronger mentally and physically. Some facilities are using Brick Therapy to improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy. Using Lego bricks as a building activity has been shown to build the motor skills of children with cerebral palsy. This can be a fun and engaging therapy between families and children to stack Legos and encourage them to build tall or wide structures.”
Carolyn Straub from University of Illinois at Chicago:
“As a caregiver, I was responsible for helping a young woman with cerebral palsy with all her activities of daily living and many medical aspects of her care, such as G-tube feeding and medication administration… Mealtime was particularly challenging when I first began. I struggled to get her to open her mouth wide enough to slip in even a small spoonful of mac and cheese.
Another caregiver suggested that I use a Nuk brush, designed for speech therapy, to prompt her to open up. Even when I was successful, she would promptly spit the mac and cheese back out. The only food she consistently ate from me were veggie straws, which are long, thin, crunchy snack sticks. I got the idea to substitute a veggie stick for the Nuk brush, running it gently along her lips and the inside of her cheek to signal that food is coming. After this breakthrough, I encouraged her to eat many different foods: chicken nuggets, yogurt, fresh fruit, pasta, you name it.
A technique may work for some but not others, and occasionally problems arise that require creative solutions. This attitude of creativity and innovation is crucial to improving the life of this young woman and countless others like her.”
Madalyn Johnson from A. T. Still University:
“A fruitful way to develop autonomy and togetherness at the same time is through group yoga as a family. A study done by Mak et. al., researched 42 families with children that have Cerebral Palsy. The families participated in a 20-minute daily yoga practice for 8 weeks. After the 8 weeks they interviewed the participants. 94% of children with Cerebral Palsy enjoyed the program, 92% would participate again and 8% would consider participating again. When interviewing the parents they found 100% would recommend it to other families, and 91.30% enjoyed participating in this program with their child. The mental improvement in participants stood out the most… This study and many others show that yoga can improve the physical, and mental state of not only the individual with Cerebral Palsy but also the family members as they participate together.”
Abigail Takitch from University of Cincinnati:
“One of the most beneficial therapies for cerebral palsy is simply playing with other children and family members. Play allows a child to practice moving both sides of their body at the same time. This type of therapy is most appealing to a child, as they typically do not realize it is therapy. Along with this, families enjoy this because they are helping their child in a way that is indirect, but, also, they are bonding and forming a relationship with their son/ daughter or sister/ brother.”
Alexis Dress-Moran from Western Governors University:
“Aquatic therapy is where the buoyancy from the water allows a child with cerebral palsy to move more freely and takes some of the pressure from their weight off their joints and muscles. By decreasing the amount of stress and pressure put onto the joints, the body can more easily perform the exercises that the child may have struggled with outside of the water. The warm cradle that the water provides can also help the muscles to relax and vasodilate the blood vessels, increasing the blood flow to areas that have been injured and aiding in the healing process. Aquatic therapy can be practiced with children with cerebral palsy and their whole families! It can be a fun and interactive activity for the whole family, helping the child to feel more excited and comfortable in the water.”
Julie Hodges from Governors State University:
“Assistive technology devices such as graphic organizers and speech tablets can help with both communication and academic needs. Eye tracking devices, eyeglasses, and hearing aids, also work to break down unfortunate barriers, allowing them to convey messages and requests. Providing a way for those with cerebral palsy to communicate with others can greatly improve the quality of life for both children and their families.”
Adrian Carter from Western Governors University:
“Music therapy is an optional treatment for cerebral palsy. Music therapists work with people who have cerebral palsy to help them improve their motor skills, cognitive abilities and more. Music is an essential component in everyone’s life and by extension music has been shown to have therapeutic benefits for those living with cerebral palsy. From improving motor function skills like adaptive feeding or swallowing, reducing pain levels during stretching exercises as well as encouraging more muscle activity than passive therapies such massage alone are capable of doing.”
Helani Hodge from California State University, East Bay:
“…I found that there was one therapy that works the best without medication therapies: Play Therapy. This form of therapy is a way for the children to keep their imagination going without worrying about how they look. While playing, it can become hard to remember the worries and social norm requirements because when we are using our imagination, we can look, smell, and taste like anything.
I could only imagine the fun the children have without the worries of their diagnosis.
The children must depend on others to help them with their basic activities throughout the day. Play Therapy gives the children control and for a child living with Cerebral Palsy, that means so much more.”
Jordyn Schoen from Concordia University- St. Paul:
“By continuing to offer telehealth appointments, children can have better access to physical activity because it mitigates some major barriers for this population and their families such as lack of time, money, and knowledge of home programs. The potential benefits telehealth medicine holds are extensive and beneficial to many populations, including children with cerebral palsy. As a student pursuing physical therapy, I understand how important rehabilitation maintenance is, and I am passionate about being able to provide accessible therapies. Telemedicine is a great way to become more accessible for families and children with cerebral palsy and is an innovation that is actually a positive result of the pandemic.”
Neina Chapa from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi:
“Social media and music therapy is especially beneficial for children with cerebral palsy who suffer from vision or hearing loss as a result of brain injury incurred during childbirth. Although there are many treatment options for vision loss, music therapy allows individuals to enjoy activities not reliant on vision, which can be enjoyed anywhere and be personalized to individual music tastes for free. Alternatively, if the person is experiencing hearing loss, social media in the form of written communications can be beneficial to them in that aspect. As someone who has friends with Cerebral Palsy, I know that it can be hard for families and friends to care for them when the person feels misunderstood or frustrated because of their handicap. An improved mindset from social interaction with people who have the same condition eases the stress and anxiety of those family members who cannot relate to the pain and disabilities of their loved ones.”
Justin Carusillo from Palm Beach State College:
“While there is no cure for CP there has been lots of emerging technology replacing traditional treatments like braces or surgery. To start through technological advances in the understanding of DNA methylation patterns by using special sequencing data via software programs it has introduced a possibility to detect CP much earlier than what was previously capable, which can have a very positive impact on the prognosis of a child… While this program is still in a very early and developmental phase with much work to be done, scientists and researchers are still very hopeful and optimistic for the future.
Thanks to rapid advancements and successes in the field of medical technology, children with CP are receiving more help than ever before. Seeing this emerging technology and advancements makes me as well as many of these scientists and researchers incredibly hopeful in the future as far as possible therapies and improvements to day-to-day life of children with CP go.”
Allison Conner from University of Georgia:
“As a college student, I spent my summer breaks nannying for a family member with a little boy who has cerebral palsy, and thus, was very involved in his activities. He was born with the umbilical cord around his neck, which resulted in the condition. When he was a baby, I would accompany him to treatments in a hyperbaric chamber for oxygen therapy. Although there is inconclusive evidence from clinical trials for this treatment, his parents and primary care physician felt that the hypothesis was compelling enough to warrant exploring the option. I would lay with him in the pressurized tube for 90 minutes at a time, weekly, throughout the summer for his therapy.
He is now 9 years old and has grown and developed with average motor function. The symptoms of cerebral palsy are barely perceptible. He plays on his school’s sports teams and is a fun, smart, and energetic little boy. While it is difficult to say whether or not the activities we participated in during his toddler years are responsible for this, I know they were at the very least fun and developmentally stimulating… Under the guidance of a pediatrician, innovative therapies including hyperbaric oxygen treatment could potentially improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy as well.”
Tammy Kualaau from University of Central Oklahoma:
“My daughter was born at 25 weeks 5 days gestation weighing 1 pound and 13 ounces and spent 188 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit… I am not medically astute as to be able to suggest innovative medical therapies, but one thing I appreciated with my premature daughter was my ability to access early medical screening of any potential developmental delays and or disabilities. Early intervention can make a major difference in creating a plan of care and maybe provide additional options that would not be available if diagnosed in later childhood.”
Austin Bates from Bob Jones University:
“One newer and innovative form of therapy that can especially help and improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy is music therapy. Music therapy works in tandem with other forms of therapy to help in many areas such as speech/language development, cognitive development, and motor skill improvement. Not only does music therapy provide actual improvement in these areas, but it also allows for many fun activities and methods in which to accomplish these improvements because of its flexibility and the universal love and enjoyment of music.”
Griffin Murphy from Ohio State University:
“One form of therapy and activity that is often used to help those children that have cerebral palsy is play therapy… There are many benefits to play therapy including improved self-confidence, improved decision making, improved control over emotions, etc. There are three main forms of play therapy that can benefit the child each in their own successful ways depending on the needs of the child and what can succeed the most. The three different kinds of play therapy are directed play, non-directed play and prescribed play.”
Sophia Lyman from University of Southern California:
Muscle training helps an individual with CP to gain strength in their muscles and learn how to correctly use them while moving their limbs. Physical therapists can also recommend different braces and splints that can be used to help someone with daily activities, such as walking, and stretching their muscles. Physical therapy is one of the best treatments to help people with cerebral palsy regain their strength and become more independent.”
Marybeth Weeden from Maine College of Health Professions:
“Physical and occupational therapy have been huge for kids who have CP because it focuses on their range of motion and building strength; it also prevents contractures which can be super painful. PT and OT will often use treadmills or other devices to help with gait training and strengthening. A lot of the time too, they will advise speech therapy to come in and help them understand different sounds and help articulate their speech… One of my favorite innovative activities to suggest is playing an instrument, it helps with hand-eye coordination and if the child is younger it gives them auditory stimulation.”
Maggie McGing from University of Colorado School of Medicine:
“While there is exciting new technology that is ever-evolving in the care for children with cerebral palsy, sometimes it’s the simple innovations that have the most profound impact. An evolving innovation I’ve witnessed is the creation of clinics specifically for patients with cerebral palsy. These clinics provide multidisciplinary care that address needs ranging from ankle foot orthoses to occupational therapy and social work services. Having a centralized care system like this ensures that all parties involved in the patients’ care are on the same page and providing holistic, goal directed care for people with cerebral palsy.
When I think of how these clinics benefit patients and their families I think of one family in particular: a single mom and her son with cerebral palsy. They had recently moved from a rural area to Colorado and I met them at their initial intake appointment. The mother, rightfully so, looked exhausted. Over the course of the visit we watched as her sense of relief filled the room. A pediatrician, physical therapist, social worker, and occupational therapist met with her and her son and created a comprehensive treatment plan. When the visit came to an end her eyes filled with tears. She felt heard and helped.”
Justine Miller from University of Cincinnati:
“As defined in the Occupational Therapy Framework, occupational therapy (OT) uses everyday activities of life, known as occupations, as a therapeutic tool with individuals in all aspects of the lifespan in order to enhance or enable the ability to participate in important roles, habits, and routines in a variety of settings (American). Settings in which OT may take place include home, work, school, and community activities. Pediatric occupational therapy practitioners are trained to not only work with clients throughout the therapy process, but with family and caregivers of clients as well. There are a number of areas in which children with CP are assessed for therapeutic intervention, such as activities of daily living (ADLs) including self-care, mobility, and communication, as well as education, work and play skills, and social participation.”
Devin Lewis from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi:
“Common and important methods of treatment for cerebral palsy are centered around preventing progression or correcting various physical outcomes such as muscle spasticity or body deformation (Shepard R.B. (2013). Unfortunately, physical symptoms such as muscle spasticity are bound to reoccur unless motor control is improved or the affected muscle groups or preventative therapy is constant… Virtual reality games or modified common computer games that require movement of the player in order to respond to a stimulus can be an important way to stimulate range of motion, cardiovascular exercise, and biofeedback mechanisms that increase motor control and muscle fiber recruitment.”
Danielle Messner from Western Oregon University
“Children need to feel like they are not ‘less-than’ in any way. Developing support groups in and out of the clinical setting not only provides children with peer support, but gives families a place of comfort where they can have an understanding shoulder to lean on. These groups would offer educational, physical and occupational therapy, amongst others, to cerebral palsy patients, in a safe, non-clinical setting. This would allow children to develop their skills with peers going through the same journey, give parents the peace of mind knowing that their child is safe, as well as allowing them to build relationships with other cerebral palsy families.”
Isabel Rodriguez from George Fox University:
“Activities that can improve the lives of the children with Cerebral Palsy and their families include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and behavioral therapy. These activities create a positive effect on the child because it teaches them how to develop and obtain a daily routine. This contributes to independence and an improved quality of life. We need to provide support for both the child and their families. Family-centered care is necessary in improving both the child and families life.”
David Armentrout from Radford University:
“I was born a twin weighing 1 lb.10 oz. I had a brain bleed sometime around my birth and I have a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. I have had the benefit of numerous specialists – doctors, therapists, coaches, teachers, and friends since birth that helped me learn to live my best life with cerebral palsy. I have also been blessed with a family that has encouraged me to keep doing my exercises, stretching, and moving my body even though some of the time it was highly irritating!
Although all the people helped a little in a lot of ways, one special Physical Therapist named Karen Chipok was a game changer for me.
She was an incredible gift to me and helped me get through my growth spurts during puberty without losing too much function. She is one of the big reasons I am studying to be a Speech Pathologist. I want to make a difference in someone’s life who struggles with speaking. I also am a stutterer and can relate to all the challenges that come along with that disability.
Here are my ideas for innovative therapies and activities to improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy and their families. My first idea is the game Twister. This game would be awesome because the child can interact with family and stretch their muscles simultaneously. This game can be played by any age and could also serve as “therapy” because every time it’s played, muscles will be stretched.
My second innovative activity is yoga. Yoga is great because a child with any severity of cerebral palsy can do yoga. It does not have to be complex yoga poses, just the basic poses will work. Yoga can be done laying on the floor, standing, or even kneeling. Every pose is stretching some sort of muscle.
My last suggestion is a trampoline. The child can work on their stretching and gain proprioceptive inputs at the same time.”
Cate Wollert from University of Kentucky:
“I believe that art therapy is an innovative way of improving the lives of individuals with Cerebral Palsy. While this is not a suitable activity for every individual because the abilities of those with Cerebral Palsy differs from person to person, as with most disabilities, for those even with minute motor functioning, art is an incredible option. I am personally pursuing a career in Art Education, but my long term goal is to be an art therapist. I have found that activities like painting and coloring have been great for the students I have worked with that have had Cerebral Palsy because it has helped them practice holding crayons, pens, pencils, and paint brushes.”
Corey Crossfield from Santa Monica College:
“My youngest sister, Taylor, is one of the most incredible people I am fortunate to know. She’s incredibly funny, has great taste in music, and is the nicest person you will ever meet. Amongst all of the wonderful qualities that make my sister an incredible person she also has cerebral palsy.
As Taylor got older, we were able to interact with her more and the best times we had as a family were during music therapy. It might sound silly but everyone in our family would participate in these dance parties. It was really one of the happiest moments of my life and it was the first time I experienced how music can be more than just something you listen to on the radio. It’s something that can help people like my sister become more inclined to learn balance or improve their gait. I’m proud to say Taylor and I still participate in these dance parties even during the current pandemic.”
Benjamin Carr from University of Pittsburgh:
“The Eyegaze, developed by LC technologies, is a successful innovation for helping disabled children connect with their families. This invention was predicated on helping children with spastic dyskinetic CP, which is a type of CP that restricts an individual’s ability to move and speak. Eyegaze, which is a camera attached to a computer, tracks the eye movements of the individual and uses eye movements as a cursor to select things on the screen, browse the internet, and print items. The utility of this innovation allows the child to be more independent throughout life.”
Melissa Benavente from Western Governors University:
“We can provide education on the importance of healthy nutrition and physical activity, such as aquatic exercises to provide movement to prevent further deformity and reduce the chance of injury. The physical aquatic exercises will provide inclusion with others impacted by cerebral palsy. The supportive interaction will enhance the entire family’s self-esteem, encourage mobility, and promote behavioral stress and anxiety coping skills. The development of healthy habits of living will allow for overall health and wellness for the child and their family.”
Helen Menard from University of Georgia:
“New scientific advances have improved the quality of life for these individuals by providing innovative robotics, research, etc. The most immediate method being the technological discoveries in robotics. Devices such as Dr. Thubi Kolobe’s ‘Self Initiation Prone Powered Crawler’ promotes crawling in infants at risk of cerebral palsy. The robot, equipped with a learning algorithm, senses the baby’s shifts, and gives the infant a ‘boost’ towards where they want to go. This device encourages motor function growth and reduces the chances of harsher symptoms later in life.”
Micaela Cors from Brigham Young University:
“One of my favorite new technologies that I’ve read about is the University of Delaware’s ‘artificial muscle.’ The UD team recently worked to create a kind of ankle brace that utilized an ‘artificial muscle’ device that would be more comfortable, lighter, and less restrictive than a typical ankle brace… I know that this could help kids be more comfortable with the equipment that they have to use, and having the kids be more comfortable, happy, and mobile, would bring so much happiness and peace of mind to parents and families. Their lives simply would be better with this and other developing technologies.”
Sierra Orzech from University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine:
“While my disability as a child was mental, equine therapy, or hippotherapy, assists many children and adults with all kinds of physical disabilities, including cerebral palsy. Hippotherapy is based on the idea that the movement of a horse under a child can help develop and engage a child’s sensory, neuromotor, and cognitive systems. The movements of the horse encourage a person’s body to adjust to its action, maintaining their balance and strength. Not only is this type of therapy proven effective, but by working with horses, children are also thoroughly engaged mentally. Children, like myself, love interacting with the animals, and are often more than eager to ride them again.”
Jasmine Gordon from University of Houston:
“Speech and language therapies enhance the communication abilities of children with cerebral palsy and can even assist them with swallowing and breathing difficulties. Some barriers of communication that cerebral palsy can cause are difficulty pronouncing words because of muscle coordination, difficulty articulating, disrupted fluency such as stuttering, and trouble with pitch.
Giving children with cerebral palsy the ability to communicate with their loved ones and peers is something too valuable to put into words.”
Alison Calewarts from California State University, East Bay:
“For the past year I have worked as a volunteer for an amazing organization called YAC, which stands for the Youth Assistance Coalition in San Diego. With this, I provide one on one tutoring for one of my students, CJ. One of the difficulties CJ has faced includes being diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child. His doctors predicted that he would never be able to walk on his own and that he would need extra support throughout his life when it came to his mobility. He participated in occupational therapy where he practiced performing daily routines and activities to improve independence and quality of life in various settings. Some specific tasks CJ practiced in OT include writing and typing as a way of strengthening his fine motor skills. In addition, CJ also participated in Physical Therapy where he worked to strengthen his mobility, coordination and flexibility and continue to practice his motor skills to prevent his symptoms from getting worse over time.”
Marissa Scott from University of Mount Union:
“While untraditional, context therapy can greatly improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy and their families. Studies have proven it to be equally effective as physical therapy in most cases. Children gain more ability to be independently functional, and they do not have to directly fight their physical limitations to do so. For families, this method of therapy is often less expensive and causes less stress. Furthermore, because the therapist works in partnership with both child and family, everyone can understand what changes are being made and how to maintain them.”
McKenna Bruin from Western Michigan University:
“With having first hand experience growing up with a special needs brother that has cerebral palsy, play therapy and involving them in activities has helped improve their lives. Playing brings happiness and joy to a child’s life. This activity is when a kid can interact with others and be themselves. For cerebral palsy kids, playing can be difficult. Having physical difficulties can be hard for a cerebral palsy child to enjoy playing. With the help of play therapy cerebral palsy kids can get the help they need to enjoy playing. Play therapy helps cerebral palsy kids express themself, develop cognitive problem solving situations, improve their learning, and reduce their anxiety.”
Mez Torcavi from University of Houston:
“At this moment, a prominent potential treatment is stem cells. Most kinds of cerebral palsy are caused when brain cells are damaged or made nonfunctional in the prenatal stage. Stem cells have the potential to replace the affected cells, help heal brain scars, and hasten recovery. 12 trials have already been conducted to determine stem cell’s efficacy. Of them, only one has been released, but the study shows that children who receive stem cell treatment, as opposed to conventional rehabilitation treatments and drugs, exhibited greater improvement in cognitive and motor tests than by other means. While more trials are required, it is an interesting and promising treatment.”
Vy Nguyen from University of Portland:
“As a nursing student, I believe the best way to improve the lives of children with cerebral palsy and their families is to provide holistic and compassionate care. The most important role of healthcare professionals is to advocate for the patient and their families, therefore suggesting alternative ways to cope with illnesses. Drawing upon my education with alternative medicine, it could be greatly beneficial in adjunction with conventional treatments like therapies and medicine… Providing spiritual care could also be a contributing factor to improving the lives impacted by the cerebral palsy disorder. The most important reminder patients and family members need is to know that they don’t have to go through significant life challenges alone.”
Kayla White from Western Michigan University:
“A therapy that has come a long way in recent years is Neurologic Music Therapy. Music Therapy can be used in a variety of ways to help children with cerebral palsy. Neurologic Music Therapy utilizes standardized treatment techniques based on scientific research that is directed towards functional therapeutic goals. Neurologic Music Therapists operate using the Transformational Design Model, which has six steps.”
Sylvia Bier from University of Southern California:
“Just like there are different teaching learning techniques and different learning styles, there are different innovative therapies to inspire kids with cerebral palsy. One of the most innovative therapies for children with cerebral palsy involves magic lessons and culminates with a magic show… By learning magic tricks, they are learning a skill that very few people know, and this knowledge gives the child a sense of pride. It raises their self-esteem and self-confidence. The benefits are long lasting, and their family is proud to see them reaching new achievements doing tricks that even they could not do without training. “
Ana Sanchez from University of Houston:
“A key innovative therapy in the treatment of cerebral palsy is occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is used to help an individual with cerebral palsy achieve the highest level of performance in their normal day to day routine. Children will learn to complete tasks in their daily environments independently or with some assistance if needed. This therapy will help children with cerebral palsy to gain confidence in their capabilities, independence, and increase their motor skills. Organization and having a set routine also helps the child mentally and will help reduce any anxiety the child may have. Most families also find occupational therapy beneficial for themselves as well. Stress and frustration usually decrease as their child excels in occupation therapy. It is hard to be a caregiver, but occupational therapy helps to reduce the worry and uncertainty parents may have.”
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