Physical Therapy and Managing Cerebral Palsy

Children diagnosed with cerebral palsy may face a range of physical challenges. From balance issues to mobility challenges, physical therapy (PT) may be able to provide ways for a child to improve his physical abilities and minimize some of the obstacles. Ultimately, the goal of PT exercises is to allow the child to be more coordinated, self-sufficient, and physically fit. 

Depending on the specific diagnosis involved, a physical therapist will develop a treatment plan based on the child’s health and abilities. Components of treatment could include stretching, movement, or the involvement of assistive devices. Exercises are designed to encourage the child to achieve goals, so a focus is placed on what the child can do well while working on what needs improvement.

Exposure to this type of physical therapy allows the child and the family to learn about alternative ways to accomplish certain tasks and how to safely alter the child’s environment at home and school in order to foster independence. Exercises might include:

• Dancing
• Throwing a ball
• Modified sports
• Swimming
• Movement with assistive devices

Through these exercises, the child will hopefully gain physical strength and an increase in range of motion that could further promote independence. When a child is functioning at an optimal capacity, everyday tasks and activities may continue to become easier and learning ways to accommodate the physical disability may no longer be as frustrating or limiting. Thus, physical therapy does more than just treat the body; it aims to improve overall wellness.

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