Most of the causes of cerebral palsy do not have specific, curative treatments. However, children with cerebral palsy present many medical problems that can be treated or prevented. The initial stage of treatment involves an interdisciplinary team, consisting of a pediatrician -- preferably one with experience in neurodevelopmental disorders -- a neurologist or other neurological practitioner, a mental health practitioner, an orthopaedic surgeon, a physical therapist, a speech therapist, and an occupational therapist. Each member of the team has important, independent contributions to make in the care of the affected child.
- The physical therapist evaluates muscle tone, strength, and gait (walking).
- The occupational therapist reviews the child's ability to perform tasks of self-help and care -- from feeding to manual dexterity.
- The speech therapist evaluates the child's ability to speak and understand speech.
Most children with neurological impairment have significant emotional distress and also require therapy from a mental health practitioner.
Virtually all states have federally-mandated programs for the assessment and treatment of children with cerebral palsy and other developmental conditions. In many states, these programs are termed "regional centers" and can be found in local phone books. Also, children's hospitals usually have special clinics with experience with children with cerebral palsy. Furthermore, when a child reaches the age of 3 years, the school district may become formally involved in the review of at-risk children. These programs protect children up to the age of 21 years.
At the present time, there is a vacuum in the provision of medical care for adults with cerebral palsy living in the community settings. There are a limited number of services in adult hospitals geared to the treatment of adults with cerebral palsy or developmental disabilities.
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