Lacking adequate control of the body is the most challenging aspect of cerebral palsy, particularly for children. Choosing a form of orthotic treatment for cerebral palsy is a highly-recommended way to support their growing muscles and bones.
While adults with cerebral palsy often have years of physical and occupational therapy to help them with walking freely or feeding themselves, children with cerebral palsy haven’t yet attained those learned abilities. About 80% of children with cerebral palsy cope with spasticity, which causes certain muscles to continuously contract and spasm, interfering with even the simplest movements. Orthotic devices can help children with cerebral palsy control and redirect spasticity to gain more independence.
How Can Orthotics Help?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, the earlier a child begins orthotic treatment for their specific cerebral palsy challenges, the less they will have to struggle later in life. At their most basic function, orthotic intervention devices provide bracing support for various muscles and bones in a child’s body in order to encourage mobility.
Such orthotic devices help build strength and encourage balance, while reducing discomfort and increasing a child’s ability to perform simple tasks without the help of a parent or caregiver. In addition, strategically placed and custom-fabricated orthotic devices help limit unwanted motion in the muscles most prone to spasm. Orthoses also encourage muscle and bone alignment and even prevent the bone deformities common after years of untreated muscular stiffness or laxity.
How Do Orthotics Work?
Because everyone’s body is unique, cerebral palsy can present itself in a myriad of ways. As a result, hundreds of orthotic devices exist to address different muscular issues. Because of the countless combinations of orthotic treatments available, as well as the number of individual challenges a child with cerebral palsy may face, it’s crucial to have a licensed orthotist develop the best treatment plan for each child.
Different materials provide their own unique benefits. In fact, a single leg brace might combine these materials for best results. Possible components of orthoses include plastic polymer, leather, metal, carbon fibers, and rubber. Each one contributes unique options, depending on whether soft, rigid, or semi-soft support is called for in the orthotic device.
What Orthotic Treatments Are Available for Cerebral Palsy?
Orthotic devices help treat a range of challenges that children with cerebral palsy encounter. Many of them can work together or separately to provide a different form of orthotic treatment for cerebral palsy. The following are some examples:
- Lower extremity and knee orthoses control unwanted motion, while helping to encourage increased range of motion in the hips, knees, and legs. These braces, stabilizers, and other devices provide orthotic treatment for cerebral palsy challenges such as spastic movement in the legs, knee or hip dislocation, and abnormal bone development.
- Foot orthoses help provide corrective support for such common cerebral palsy-related conditions such as drop-foot, unstable ankles, turning out or turning in of feet, and general gait concerns.
- Upper extremity orthoses provide support and corrective functions for fingers, wrists, elbows, arms, and shoulders. Until recently a somewhat overlooked component in the treatment of cerebral palsy, upper extremity orthoses now show promise in helping children develop the motor skills necessary for gripping, moving, and carrying objects.
- Spinal orthoses help bolster core balance, decrease pain, prevent spastic movement, and encourage normal skeletal development. Spinal orthoses options range from rib belts to corsets and back braces of various types.
If your child has cerebral palsy and you would like more information about orthotic treatment options, contact Horton’s Orthotics and Prosthetics at 501-683-8889. We have several locations throughout Arkansas accepting new patients every day.
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