Children with cerebral palsy will face unique challenges with their development and independence throughout their lives. Thankfully, pediatric occupational therapy can help your child gain the key developmental skills they need for success in school, relationships, and daily activities. Keep reading to learn more about what cerebral palsy is, how it can affect your child’s development, and how occupational therapy can help them build a brighter future.

What Is Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is a disorder of the nervous system that affects muscle tone, movement and coordination. This can cause a child to struggle with everyday activities like taking care of their own hygiene, playing with others, feeding themselves, getting dressed, and much more.

What Causes Cerebral Palsy?

Cerebral palsy is caused by brain damage during early development, either while in the womb or during or after birth—though 80% of cases of cerebral palsy occur due to damage that happens before birth. The damage affects the parts of the brain that control muscle movements. This can happen due to:

  • Premature birth
  • Infections of the brain or spinal cord
  • Strokes
  • Lack of blood flow or oxygen to the brain
  • Genetics
  • Accidental injuries

Signs and Symptoms of Cerebral Palsy

Children who have cerebral palsy can have one or more of the following symptoms or complications as a result of this condition:

  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills
  • Challenges in walking or maintaining balance
  • Impaired speech or difficulty swallowing
  • Lack of muscle tone
  • Developmental delays
  • Unusually small or large head size
  • Stiffness in the arms or legs
  • Muscle spasms or contractions
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Intellectual or learning disabilities
  • Vision and hearing impairments
  • Behavioral struggles

How Occupational Therapy Treats Cerebral Palsy

Pediatric occupational therapy uses proven, play-based techniques to help children with cerebral palsy develop the essential skills they need for success in life. Our approach focuses on enhancing your child’s independence, confidence, and ability to handle daily tasks. We use simple exercises, stretches, and activities to help your child improve their movement and coordination so they can achieve their fullest potential.

Hippotherapy for Cerebral Palsy

As part of our holistic approach, we may recommend hippotherapy to address developmental challenges and sensory processing difficulties associated with cerebral palsy. This enjoyable therapy technique involves interacting with horses, which offers children a unique and motivating way to build physical strength, coordination, and confidence. The children in our care love working with horses because it motivates them to build their developmental skills so they can spend time with these incredible animals.

Free Developmental Screening

If you’re concerned about your child’s development, you can take advantage of our free online developmental screening. This tool is a convenient way for parents to know with certainty if your child is achieving their developmental milestones or if they need extra support to achieve their brightest future.

Take our free developmental screening

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