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> Home > Articles by Tina Allen > What is Cerebral Palsy?

What is Cerebral Palsy?

by Tina Allen, LMT, CPMMT, CPMT, CIMT
Updated April 2016

So, what is Cerebral Palsy?

According to Nemours Children’s Health System, cerebral palsy (CP) is defined as a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). Cerebral palsy can also lead to other health issues, including vision, hearing, and speech problems, and learning disabilities.

 



 

Four types of Cerebral Palsy: spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed.

CP is usually caused by brain damage that occurs before or during a child's birth, or during the first 3 to 5 years of a child's life. There are several types of cerebral palsy which involve damage to different parts of the brain, and affect body movement, posture and muscle coordination.  These types are categorized into four types: spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed.

 

• Spastic cerebral palsy

This is the most common form of cerebral palsy and accounts for nearly 50-80 percent of all cerebral palsy cases.  The symptoms include stiff, difficult and limited movement.  Children with spastic cerebral palsy have stiff and jerky movements. They often have a hard time moving from one position to another. They may also have a hard time holding and letting go of objects.  In some areas of the body muscle tone is so high that the tight muscle's antagonists have completely let go.

 
• Athetoid cerebral palsy

This form is less common than spastic cerebral palsy and accounts for up to 20- 30% of all clients.  The symptoms include very weak muscles, involuntary and uncontrolled movement.  Athetoid cerebral palsy is caused by damage to the cerebellum or basal ganglia. These areas of the brain are responsible for processing the signals that enable smooth, coordinated movements as well as maintaining body posture.  These movements may also interfere with everyday functions such as speaking, feeding, reaching, grasping, and other skills requiring coordinated movements.

 

• Ataxic cerebral palsy

This form is more rarely seen and involves chronic shaking, tremors and poor balance.  It affects approximately 5 - 10% of all CP clients.  These clients have low muscle tone and poor coordination of movement.  Children with ataxic cerebral palsy look very unsteady and shaky. This rare form of cerebral palsy also affects the child’s sense of balance and depth perception.

 

• Mixed cerebral palsy

Approximately 10 -20% of Cerebral Palsy clients live with combinations of the CP forms.  These children have both the tight muscle tone of spastic cerebral palsy and the involuntary movements of athetoid cerebral palsy. This is because they have injuries to both the pyramidal and extrapyramidal areas of the brain.   A child’s CP may also be classified by what part of the body is affected.  For example: hemiplegic CP means the left or right side is affected; diplegic CP means either two arms or two legs are affected; and quadriplegic CP means all the extremities are affected to some extent.

 

Pediatric Massage Therapy for Children with Cerebral Palsy

Although there is no cure for CP, treatment, therapy, special equipment, and, in some cases, surgery can help a child who is living with the condition.  Children with cerebral palsy usually receive combinations of therapies to help manage their condition. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, and speech therapy are helpful in managing cerebral palsy.

Many parents and healthcare professionals report very positive results after receiving pediatric massage therapy from a skilled and trained pediatric massage therapist specializing in this area.  Results often include increase in circulation in paralyzed limbs, decreased tone in spastic muscles, relief from tension and spasms, and improved blood circulation and digestion.

For parents and healthcare providers considering a treatment plan for cerebral palsy, massage therapy is a nurturing intervention which should wholeheartedly examined and introduced early to achieve full benefit for family and child.

 

Pediatric Massage for Cerebral Palsy

Pediatric Massage for cerebral palsy requires specific skills to adapt massage and nurturing touch techniques suited for the child’s specific cerebral palsy condition(s), treatment and treatment plan.

Healthcare professionals including massage therapists who wish to provide massage for pediatric patients with cerebral palsy should consider specific specialized training in this area. The comprehensive Touch Therapy for Liddle Kidz with Cerebral Palsy Course for massage therapists and healthcare professionals provides educational and professional training to those who wish to enhance their skills. Through this advanced pediatric massage training, participants will learn massage for pediatric clients with cerebral palsy, massage techniques, nurturing touch techniques, and information about the most common types of childhood cerebral palsy including spastic, athetoid, ataxic, and mixed cerebral palsy.

Massage therapy may not ultimately cure cerebral palsy, but this nurturing touch may provide some of the most beneficial and therapeutic touch in the child’s treatment plan.

 

Specially trained Certified Pediatric Massage Therapists

Massage may be a supportive therapy that can be readily applied, most effectively by specially trained massage therapists or by parents who have learned massage techniques from a skilled, educated massage therapist.   Pediatric massage and nurturing touch are the most appropriate massage techniques to use in this population. When using massage therapy for children with cancer, your work does not need to be aggressive to achieve its maximum potential.

 

 

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Specially trained Certified Pediatric Massage Therapists

lkf-cpmt-logo-144pxMassage may be a supportive therapy that can be readily applied, most effectively by specially trained massage therapists or by parents who have learned massage techniques from a skilled, educated massage therapist.   Pediatric massage and nurturing touch are the most appropriate massage techniques to use in this population. When using massage therapy for children with cancer, your work does not need to be aggressive to achieve its maximum potential.

For more information visit Comprehensive Pediatric Massage Training Course (CPMT)

 

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For more information visit: Advanced Specialized Pediatric Massage Training for Children with Cerebral Palsy

 



 

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