Massage to Improve the Quality of Life for a Cerebral Palsy Patient

Massage to Improve the Quality of Life for a Cerebral Palsy Patient

Cerebral palsy is an all-encompassing term that represents a group of conditions characterised by a variety of motor disorders, such as movement and postural dysfunction or muscle coordination difficulties. Generally, a movement deficiency or muscle dysfunction will not worsen as time progresses and males have a 40% higher risk of developing cerebral palsy than females. There are lots of support available for cerebral palsy patients including schools that specifically cater for cerebral palsy patients, therapies to massage centres.

What Are the Different Types of Cerebral Palsy?

Presently, medical research has uncovered three separate types of cerebral palsy. Spastic cerebral palsy features a degree of muscle rigidity with painful contractions. Dyskinetic CP presents with involuntary writhing movements with a slowing of body motion. Ataxic cerebral palsy features deficient balance and coordination of the body.

Regardless of the type of cerebral palsy or CP, the common feature presented to the patient is fetal brain damage to one or more of the brain areas. This damage can occur in utero, during the birthing process, during infancy or can be acquired during early childhood. If CP is acquired after the birthing process, the most common cause is a bacterial or viral infection such as meningitis. Cerebral palsy can also be caused by trauma to the head, motor vehicle accidents, or physical child abuse.

The most typical manifestation of CP include muscle spasticity, mobility disturbances, difficulties in gait movement, involuntary motions, unnatural sensory perception and challenges regarding breathing procedures. Further manifestations discovered in CP patients include problems swallowing, difficulties feeding, idiopathic seizures, speech impairments, learning difficulties, skin disorders, sores, bowel problems and bladder challenges.

What Are the Functional Markers of Cerebral Palsy?

The most common functional markers of cerebral palsy in childhood development are discussed below.

At two months – a challenge in controlling head movement and stiffening legs that cross.

At six months – reaching with one hand while the other is fixed in a fist position.

At twelve months – not crawling or standing without support from parents.

At twenty-four months – unable to push a toy with wheels or walk independently.

Risk Factors

Various risk factors have been associated with the development of cerebral palsy in childhood. Premature birth and low birth weight are two of the most common risk factors or triggers for CP development. In utero, an absence of growth hormone proteins and placental abnormalities can be directly associated with CP. Furthermore, infections and non-matching RH bloods can be a risk. If CP is developed during the birthing process or congenitally, the risk factor of prolonged oxygen loss or head trauma could be contributing.

While incurable, cerebral palsy is a treatable condition. Due to the CP conditions manifesting uniquely with each patient, early detection and intervention can promote successful treatment of the child. Treatment alternatives include surgery to correct physical abnormalities, walking aid equipment, braces, computer technology for communication aid and complementary therapies. The complementary therapies can include massage, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.

What About Massage Therapy for the Cerebral Palsy Patient?

Massage therapy is one of the most legitimate complementary treatment alternatives for CP patients. Of course, when choosing massage therapy it is important to take into consideration the type of cerebral palsy being experienced by the patient. Spastic cerebral palsy presents with muscle rigidity and contractures. Therefore, emphasis must be placed on relaxing the tightened muscles. Massage will be highly beneficial as it relaxes the muscle tissue of the patient.

Patients experiencing dyskinetic cerebral palsy deal with a slowing of body movements and involuntary choreal. The ideal treatment for these patients will include an emphasis producing parasympathetic responses as part of the therapy. Therapy aimed at calming the body-mind-soul connection will aid the involuntary movements, particularly with the unwinding techniques being applicable to free restrictions of slowing body movements.

Ataxic CP presents with poor coordination and balance, therefore, there is a need for emphasis on improving joint proprioception and mobility. The patient also requires a strengthening of the muscles surrounding the joints to aid in stability of movement.

Approaching the patient’s crouch gait can be a challenging issue dependent on the mobility of the patient and the pliability of the muscle tissue. Typically, the plan is to free the hips and legs from a flexing position and restore normal movement with the upper body. Stretching techniques can aid the movement of the limbs to support treatment and support joints.

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