How Do Occupational Therapists Treat Cerebral Palsy?
Unfortunately, Cerebral Palsy is a permanent condition. There is no cure for CP. However, there is hope for people who are affected by cerebral palsy. Occupational therapy is one treatment that may help a person with cerebral palsy.
Contrary to what some might think, occupational therapy means more than just therapy that is related to a job. According to the American Occupation Therapy Association (AOTA), occupational therapy is “… the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do….”1 In other words, occupational therapy is a form of treatment for children with CP and adults with CP at all stages of life.
Parents of people with CP want their children to live the best, most full lives possible. However, living with cerebral palsy can present difficult challenges. There are four common types of CP:
- Spastic cerebral palsy
- Athetoid cerebral palsy
- Ataxic cerebral palsy
- Mixed cerebral palsy
Depending on the type of CP and the severity of the brain damage, the affected person may need professional help learning how to function in school, in social situations, and at work.
An occupational therapist may be able to help by: 2
- Improving a child’s ability to move, so that the child can grasp and release objects and learn how to write
- Facilitate fine-motor exercises, so that the child can learn how to participate in play with other children and participate in games and sport activities
- Help with barriers to achieving personal independence, such as personal hygiene, getting dressed, eating and drinking, and mobility around the house
- Address behavioral problems, such as bursts of anger, depression, and feelings of loneliness or hopelessness
- Training parents and children on how to use specialized equipment to help improve the person’s quality of life
- Provide recommendations on how specialized equipment like wheelchairs, bath modifications, dressing devices, communication aids, and other equipment might help
In addition to the many ways that an occupational therapist can help, an occupational therapist can also help where they are needed. You can find occupational therapists working in:
- Children’s clinics
- Nursing homes
- Medical facilities
- Private practices
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) recommends early intervention for anyone who is affected by cerebral palsy.3 It is important to get an occupational therapist involved with a child who is affected by CP as young as possible. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Services can help get your child the attention he or she needs.
1. The American Occupational Therapy Association. (2019). What Is Occupational Therapy? Retrieved 17 October, 2019, from https://www.aota.org/Conference-Events/OTMonth/what-is-OT.aspx↩
2. Kidshealth.org. (2019). Occupational Therapy (for Parents). Retrieved 17 October, 2019, from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/occupational-therapy.html↩
3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2018). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Services. Retrieved 17 October, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/cp/treatment.html↩
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