How Massage Techniques Can Improve the Lives of Cerebral Palsy Patients

Cerebral Palsy is an umbrella term that represents a number of conditions which are associated with a number of motor disorders. These include postural and movement dysfunction or/and muscle coordination issues. In general, deficiencies associated with muscle dysfunction and movement does not get worse as the patient gets older. Boys have about a 40% greater chance in regards to developing the condition compared to girls.

Cerebral Palsy Types:

To date there are 3 distinctive Cerebral Palsy types. These include:

•Spastic Cerebral Palsy

This condition involves painful contractions and muscle rigidity.

•Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy

Is a condition that involves controlled choreal which includes writing motions that are involuntary or/and slowing down of the bodily movements.

•Ataxic Cerebral Palsy

Presents itself with boor balance and coordination.

Regardless of the CP type, brain damage that occurs while the baby is in utero to the age of one and sometimes more as in most cases, is the usual cause. These damages can occur while in utero, or during the process of birthing known as congenital or during the stages of infancy or in early childhood.

When acquired after childbirth, the more likely causes that occur in infancy are contributed to viral or bacterial infections like meningitis, child abuse, trauma, falling on the head or from an automobile accident.

The more common manifestations involve involuntary movements, muscle spasticity, mobility disturbance or gait also known as “crouch gait“, breathing issues and sensory perception regarded as abnormal. Some of the other types of common manifestations will include issues with feeding or swallowing, idiopathic seizures, speech impairment, bladder and bowel challenges, learning challenges and skin disorders causes from sores.

The Functional Markers

There are few functional markers that occur in the years of childhood development that is usually witnessed that is used to track developments associated with Cerebral Palsy. These will include some of the following:

  • At the age of 2 months, the baby will have difficulties in controlling their head or/and stiff legs which cross over when they are picked up.
  • At the age of 6 months, the baby will only be able to reach out using 1 hand and the other hand will remain in a fist position.
  • At the age of 12 months, the baby will not be crawling and will not be able to stand up without support.
  • At the age of 24 months the toddler will not be able to walk or to push toys that have wheels.

There are a number of risk factors which have been associated with CP development. A low birth weights or premature births are directly attributed. When in utero, when there is lack of or very little growth-hormone proteins, abnormalities with the placenta, viral or bacterial infections along with RH blood factor that does not match up all are identified as common risk factors. During the process of birthing, injuries to the head or oxygen loss that is prolonged are also identified as the risk factors.

Even though this condition has no known cure, today there are various options for treatment available. Due to the fact that CP conditions will manifest differently with each different child, an early detection or diagnosis along with interventions is very important for the child. Some of the treatment options available include surgery that corrects physical abnormalities, walking-aid devices or braces, computer-technology to assist with communication abilities along with complementary therapies such as speech, occupational, physical and massage. A good education institution who cater for disabled children, like Treloar, is also extremely beneficial for cerebral palsy patients.

Massage Techniques Used for Cerebral Palsy Patients

Massage therapy is regarded as one of the legitimate options of therapy for the CP patients. Patients find that implementing massage into their treatments along with lots of rest and eating a balanced diet  has benefited them and that massages are extremely relaxing to them.

One of the main considerations when treating CP patients will be dependent on the Cerebral Palsy type present.

  • The Spastic CP that features contractures and muscle rigidity involves an emphasis on relaxing the tight muscles. The modalities that facilitate relaxing the muscle tissues are greatly beneficial to these types of patients.
  • Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy that represents in the slowing down of body movements or/and uncontrolled choreal emphasis is placed on the production of parasympathetic responses which are very important. Bodywork that is used to calm the body, mind and soul works well to curtail these involuntary movements In addition fascial unwinding methods are also applicable that free up the restrictions that have cause the slowing down of the body movements.
  • Ataxic Cerebral Palsy that involves poor balance and coordination places an emphasis on improvement of mobility and joint proprioception as well as strengthening the muscles that surround the joints that aids stability.

Addressing the crouch gait in Cerebral Palsy patients is somewhat of a challenge dependent on the amount of mobility present as well as how pliable the muscular tissues are. The main aim with these patients will be to free the legs and hips from their chronic-flexion position as well as restore movements to the upper-body, especially decreasing trunk rotation and lateral arm swings.

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