The sooner you start your child on the appropriate treatment and activities for Cerebral Palsy, the better chances he or she will have in leading a reasonably normal and independent life.
Cerebral Palsy is often described as ‘brain paralysis’ or ‘non-progressive neurological disorder’. In this medical condition, the brain’s motor area is damaged or fails to develop properly. The damage may be due to injury, trauma or some illness, which may occur before a baby is born, during the birth process or after birth. Or the brain developmental failure may have genetic causes.
There is no definite consensus on what exactly causes Cerebral Palsy. It is, however, not a hereditary disorder nor is it contagious, and the term ‘non-progressive’ means that the damage to the brain, while irreversible, does not deteriorate over time; but, the effect on the body brought about by the brain damage can get worse, or, on the other hand, can improve.
It is a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing and thinking. There are several different types including spastic, athetoid, ataxic, hypotonic and also mixed, where there is a combination of the other types in one person. It is quite important that your child gets an opportunity to be independent and self-confident in this world.
It is very important that children with this acute problem are encouraged towards regular physiotherapy, exercises, games and outdoor activities. Apart from a definite improvement in physical skills, the fun factor can also bring the mental benefits and stress relief. Just make sure you choose activities that your child enjoys. Here’s a list of some activities that would be helpful for your child.
~ Put your child down on the floor and let him/her explore the surroundings at his or her own pace. If your child tends to lie still in one spot, make sure you help him/her change positions often.
~ Give your child musical instruments such as drums to play and try to engage him in music classes. Encourage him to learn songs and make him sing out loudly. This would improve his vocal ability.
Also provide him keyboards and calculators, this would prove to be a good exercise for the fingers.
~ Play games that encourage crawling. Weight-bearing on one hand or both hands and on legs is beneficial for developing good muscle tone. Place toys at some distance so the child has to reach out to pick them or crawl over to fetch them. Make sure the toys are stimulating in color, shape, texture and smell, as well as easy to play with. Encourage your child to put away toys by himself, even if that takes up a lot of time.
~ Encourage your child to draw and paint. This will instill a feeling of creative achievement and will also improve the ability to hold objects.
~ Give your child pictures to look at and ask him/her to identify the different objects in them.
~ Make a game of using signs, picture boards and so on as communication devices, especially if the child has speech problems. This will foster better communication and the ability to clearly indicate their exact likes and dislikes.
~ Take your child out to parks, gardens, zoos, playgrounds, markets to help with sensory system development. Let him explore as much as possible in the outside world.
~ Engage him/her in activities so that he/she can get used to the outside world. Give him/her a bicycle or a tricycle to ride.
~ Take your child out for fishing or other activities which would provide pleasure to him/her.
~ Get your child to learn yoga and see to it that he practices on a regular basis. Meditation along with yoga would be quite beneficial for your child.
~ Swinging can also be quite helpful for the child. If your child is not able to sit properly, hold him and swing him slowly.
~ If your child uses a wheelchair but would want to play basketball, rugby, or tennis, there are opportunities for him. There are various institutions that provide facilities for such recreational activities. Take your child to such institutions and you two can enjoy the moments together.
~ Swimming is excellent for improving flexibility. Be present at all times, whenever your child is in the pool. Swimming along with him would be a good idea.
~ Encourage your child to make friends and, if possible, ensure that he/she is included in their play.
~ Place a well-anchored, strong plank at a small height from the ground and make a game of walking from one end to the other without falling off. This will help improve balance.
~ Play games with colorful balls to develop good coordination and motor skills. Teach him to kick and throw the ball which would be a good exercise for both hands and legs.
~ Give your child clay to roll or mold. This is a good exercise for the hands.
The treatment and the therapy should start in the initial stages so as to give your child a better future. The treatment also includes therapy of different types namely;
This therapy mainly includes working on the activities related to legs and hands. Walking, clutching and stretching are some of the most common activities related to the physical therapy. This helps the body to improve its flexibility and mobility.
This therapy makes the body toned to the regular activities that a person carries out, throughout the day. This includes the working on fingers, mouth, toes and feet. These activities help in feeding, dressing, etc.
This therapy helps to improve the communication skills of a child. The activities include the communication with the help of signs or by using pictures to express views.
The activities mentioned above can play a very important part in developing the skills of your child. But the most important thing to develop in your child is self-confidence and this can be done only when you provide the necessary love and affection.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.