Cerebral palsy is an umbrella term to describe neurological damage that happens before birth or in the first few years of life. There are an enormous variety of ways in which people are affected. The range of difficulties with which people with cerebral palsy live is dependent upon many different and inter-related factors. The location and extent of any damage is extremely influential.
Movement experiences in childhood and adolescence will shape how people move and balance. This is true in everybody, not just people with cerebral palsy. Control of movement may be challenging for people with cerebral palsy and there is often difficulty generating appropriate force in certain muscles. For example, people with diplegia, which affects mainly the legs, often have stiffness and weakness so that an over-reliance on the arms for support and mobility develops to compensate.
Weakness in the legs can also be associated with an exaggerated use of the muscles in the lower back to produce stability in the body. This, over time, may lead to back ache and at heads up! we often see people with discomfort or pain in their back secondary to problems controlling their legs.
Understanding the particular issues each individual has is an important place to start. Dealing with the problem is best done by addressing the cause and making the body as stable and strong as it can be. Cerebral palsy is often a complex condition, working with professionals who have appropriate expertise and experience to identify cause and effect is vital to achieve and address the challenges of the condition effectively.
At heads up! we treat a number of patients with cerebral palsy. We provide support, advice and create tailor-made neurological physiotherapy treatment programmes to minimise abnormal patterns of movement to re-align and activate appropriate muscles.