Physical Therapy for Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a neurological disorder that occurs as the result of brain injury before or during the birth process. Symptoms of CP affect an individual’s coordination, and independent movement. For this reason, people with CP frequently struggle with walking and fine motor skills. It is recommended that physical therapy interventions start early in life. Physical therapy is necessary to improve body strength, mobility, and function. In addition, people with CP are at an increased risk for secondary health issues such as diabetes, asthma, and heart diseases. This emphasizes the need for physical therapy and reducing sedentary behavior. Though some individuals with CP might not be able to perform certain exercises or activities, it is important to note that even a little exercise can improve health outcomes.

Current research suggests that in order to improve health, fitness, and mobility for people with CP, a combination of cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle strengthening, and task specific training is necessary. To improve cardiorespiratory endurance, it is recommended to involve major muscle groups that are continuous and rhythmic in nature. Examples of endurance exercises include step-ups, cycling, arm ergometer exercises, and swimming. Muscle strengthening exercises are required to reduce muscle weakness and improve strength, using both multi joint exercises such as squatting and single joint exercises such as knee extension. Lastly, exercises and activities should be functional in nature and help individuals overcome their daily challenges. Although CP is a lifelong condition, there are many physical therapy interventions that can reduce the severity of symptoms and allow people with cerebral palsy to live active and independent lives.

Edison Guzman, PTA