Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that affect movement and muscle tone or posture. It is due to abnormal brain development, often before birth. Symptoms include difficulty in walking and undertaking bodily movements, muscle rigidity, permanent shortening of the muscle, problems with coordination, overactive reflexes, involuntary movements, muscle weakness and spasms, or paralysis of one side of the body. Developmental failure, learning disability, slow growth, or speech delay in a child are also seen.
Treatment includes occupational therapy, physiotherapy and home care. The former helps in daily activities, however, physiotherapy management plays a crucial role in restoring muscle strength and function. Prolonged manual stretch may be applied using body weight and gravity.
It could be done using machines or splints. Stretch should provide sufficient force to overcome hypertonicity, and passively lengthen the muscle. Functional exercises like treadmill training, along with electrical stimulation, and hydrotherapy help too.
Dr Krishan Mohan Singh, Consultant Physiotherapist and Ergonomist.