A Comprehensive Cerebral Palsy Resource

Interventions for People with Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral palsy is an incurable condition; however, there are many ways to improve the quality of life of someone who has it. A variety of interventions are available, with each strategy or service designed to help the individual with his or her specific disabilities. This list covers the major types of interventions that are currently available. Possibly in the future, with continued research and development, there will be even more options.

Preterm/Birth Interventions:

  • Giving the mother magnesium sulfate to try to prevent preterm labor
  • Using a cooling cap on newborns who didn’t have enough oxygen before birth to try to decrease brain damage

Interventions with Medication:

  • Oral medications such as antispasmodics, anticonvulsants, and anticholingerics
  • Botox injections into spastic muscles or into salivary glands to help with severe drooling

Interventions with Surgery:

  • Baclofen pumps to help with spasticity
  • Surgically inserted feeding tubes in cases where eating is too difficult
  • Selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery to decrease leg spasticity permanently
  • Orthopedic surgery to help with bone, joint, and muscle problems

Interventions with Therapy:

  • Physical and occupational therapy to help with everyday movements, using various specialized equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and orthotics as needed
  • Massage therapy
  • Hydrotherapy

Interventions for Education/Communication:

  • Speech therapy to help devise the most effective ways to communicate, including the use of speech generators if needed
  • Evaluations by psychologists, occupational therapists, and special education teachers as needed to develop the best possible learning program
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) services, a part of the U.S. special education laws that help individuals with cerebral palsy from birth through age 21 with a variety of educational needs

Who designs your/your child’s intervention program?

If the above list seems overwhelming, don’t worry; most people with cerebral palsy have a team of specialists helping them design their optimal treatment plan. Your/your child’s intervention team may include a pediatrician, a neurologist, an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon, a physical therapist, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, a nutritionist, and a psychologist, and there are even more specialists who can help with specifics like orthotics should that be necessary.