Cerebral Palsy: Supplemental Services for Children

In addition to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy, many other strategies can supplement the treatment plan for a child with cerebral palsy (CP). Here are a few to consider.

Behavioral therapy. Family and child psychologists, teachers, and social workers may all be part of the team to provide support to the family and child with behavioral and emotional needs.

Recreational activities. Engaging your family and child in community recreational programs offers opportunities for socialization and play. It also can improve coordination, strength, and endurance. Many communities provide specialized services. These might include swimming, skiing, horseback riding, dance, art, and other sports-related activities. However, many children with CP are able to participate in regular recreational programs. They sometimes don’t even need any aids or modifications.

Orthotics. Splinting and bracing (orthotic devices) for the trunk, hands, or legs may help a child with CP. Both PTs and OTs may recommend that your child use individually made orthotic devices to increase independent function. Therapists may work with or without an orthotist. Splinting or bracing may be used to:

  • Prevent deformity (due to tight or weak muscles)
  • Correct deformity
  • Provide a greater base of support at the foot
  • Improve walking
  • Help with the development of skills, such as use of a hand splint to make it possible to hold an object

Equipment and assistive technology devices. Technology has greatly enhanced the production of equipment and services used to compensate for impaired physical or cognitive abilities. For example:

  • Simple handles on a tray may help your child manage upper extremity movement during eating and play.
  • Computerized communication devices can help children communicate more easily and effectively.
  • Specialized walkers facilitate mobility. Wheelchairs, manually driven or motorized, allow mobility for children who would otherwise not have it.

Assistive technologies used along with therapy are important if the technology allows your child opportunities to initiate and control his or her actions. This independent action is also associated with cognitive development. Therapists and technology specialists often work together in designing and ordering equipment for a child.

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