Children develop cerebral palsy, a disorder that causes patients to have difficulty controlling their movements and balance, when they are newborns, infants or toddlers. Cerebral palsy is a result of brain damage sustained within the womb or during the early years of a child’s life. The disorder causes children to have muscle spasms or irregular movements in their arms or legs, problems standing up or walking upright, difficulties speaking or eating, seizures, stiff muscles or difficulty picking up objects. No cure exists for the disorder, but doctors and caregivers can work together to help treat and take care of children with cerebral palsy.
Parents and other caregivers need to work closely with doctors and physical therapists to design a care plan for a child with cerebral palsy. When they develop a care plan, doctors, physical therapists, teachers and caregivers need to factor in the costs of treatment, the types of treatment needed, the schedule for treatment and potential problems. Caregivers need to prepare to give children with cerebral palsy more attention than they would healthy children; they may need to plan their daily schedules around taking care of their disabled children. The care plan should be designed with the individual child in mind, as children with cerebral palsy often have different health problems. Caregivers also need to factor in how much assistance they will get from others, such as nurses or care facilities, to take care of the children.
Children with cerebral palsy often need frequent medical attention, because of symptoms and conditions related to cerebral palsy. Care plans need to take into account how often these children have to go in for checkups and special treatments, such as oral medications, shots or emergency care. Caregivers have to factor in the costs, frequency and time frame of treatments. Although no medications exist to cure children with cerebral palsy, some drugs can help them lead more pain-free lives. Certain muscle relaxers, such as onabotulinumtoxinA or diazepam can help to relieve some of the stiffness and contractions in the muscles of children with cerebral palsy. Sometimes doctors perform surgery on children with major problems in their joints, spine or hips.
Physical and occupational therapy often serve as major components within care plans for children with cerebral palsy. To learn how to perform major and minor tasks, children with the condition often need to undergo therapy on a regular basis. Occupational therapy can help children to learn how to feed, dress and bathe themselves; occupational therapists can also help children with cerebral palsy learn how to better communicate with others. Through physical therapy, children often work on strengthening their muscles, so they can move better. Caregivers need to decide how often and how long these therapy sessions will be each day or week, taking their finances and insurance plans into account.
Children with cerebral palsy are often not able to perform many of the same tasks as healthy children. They sometimes have a difficult time talking, walking or eating. They can also suffer from sleep disorders, mental retardation or osteoporosis, according to the Nemours Foundation. Children with cerebral palsy may have problems with major organs, such as their hearts. Caregivers of children with cerebral palsy need to plan for these special needs when developing a treatment plan. For example, they may need to purchase a wheelchair and a van designed for people with disabilities, if they are taking care of disabled children with movement problems. People caring for children with cerebral palsy should also learn, from a doctor or physical or occupational therapist, how to meet the needs of children with cerebral palsy, which can include how to properly feed them.
Nemours Foundation: Cerebral Palsy, https://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/brain/cerebral_palsy.html#
Mayo Clinic: Cerebral Palsy, https://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cerebral-palsy/DS00302
Elder Care Network of Larimer County, https://www.eldercarenet.org/care_process/develop.html
NSW Public Schools: Developing and Implementing Individual Health Care Plans for Students with More Complex Needs, https://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/studentsupport/studenthealth/individualstud/devimpindhcplan/index.php
Parentgiving: Develping a Care Plan, https://www.parentgiving.com/elder-care/developing-care-plan/
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Cerebral Palsy, https://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cerebral_palsy/cerebral_palsy.htm