According to Cerebral Palsy Guidance, cerebral palsy (CP) is one of the most common childhood disorders – approximately 764,000 Americans have at least one symptom. With thousands of children and adults being diagnosed with the lifelong disorder every year, many of them will be seeking ways to live a normal, conventional life and treatments that can make this possible. Treatments for CP can be wide-ranging and sometimes complicated, ranging from medications to diet, physical therapy, and newer, alternative approaches. While each patient and treatment is different, what is definite is that CP patients now have a wide range of options to help them live a long, healthy life. From new, emerging treatment techniques to tried and tested ways of managing the chronic pain that may come with CP, here are a few treatment options that CP patients can consider.
The Role Of Nutrition And Diet In CP
Digestive issues are common in CP patients. According to a past study, 92 percent of children with CP experienced significant gastrointestinal symptoms. This included 74 percent of them reporting chronic constipation and 60 percent with swallowing disorders. As a result, diet and nutrition are incredibly important in supporting a CP patient’s life quality and treatment.
Many CP patients find they can benefit from nutrition and dietary therapy, where a dedicated team can advise on a specific diet plan, ways to prepare foods, and the practice of proper mouth care post-feeding. One of the key dietary factors to remember for CP patients is to include nutrients that support muscle development and strength. These can be either calcium, vitamin D or phosphorus. Also, sometimes CP patients with digestive issues find it difficult to reach their required nutrient intake. In this case, supplements like protein boosters can help to bridge the gap.
Complementary And Alternative Medicine
Each patient and CP case is completely unique. Therefore, a treatment regime is often tailored to each individual and their disorder. As such, while physical therapy may be effective for many CP patients, others may find relief in the use of alternative medicine such as movement therapy or aqua therapy. More recently, great strides have been made in the use of stem cell therapy in treating CP patients. Stem cell transplantation for CP patients aims to regenerate healthy cells to replace any non-functioning ones patients may have. The use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for CP, such as electrical muscle stimulation, has also been widely recommended as an alternative treatment option. However, similar to stem cell therapy, there remains limited evidence on just how effective these can be when treating CP patients.
The Use Of Muscle And Nerve Relaxants
Another form of treatment for CP patients is the use of muscle relaxants, either through injections or orally. Antispasmodic drugs, such as Bentyl, are often used to reduce spasms or diminish the severity of them. These drugs can help to relieve tension in the affected muscles and help CP patients with pain management. In addition to muscle relaxants, CP patients may be prescribed antidepressants. Approximately one-third of chronic illness patients experience depression, including those with CP. This can have a domino effect on their physical and mental health, including their appetite and pain levels. In some more severe cases, a patient may require corrective surgery to amend curved spines or improperly formed bone joints. Patients that consider surgery often find that their movements are limited, and other forms of treatments like physical therapy have been tried and unsuccessful.
With an increasing variety of treatments available, CP patients are now better able to access the one that’s right for them. Alternatively, they can opt for a tailored mix of them all to improve their quality of life.