If your child has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you likely know that there are a wide range of treatment options available. The treatment options that are best for your child will depend on his or her individual needs and overall health.
One of the treatment options that is most widely recognized for its benefits is physiotherapy. Physiotherapy is very similar to physical therapy, and these two terms are often used interchangeably. However, there are subtle differences in the way that physiotherapy is focused, as opposed to the way that physical therapy is focused. Let’s take a closer look.
What is Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy is a type of therapy that involves movement, function, flexibility, and pain management. Physiotherapists are very hands-on, and focus therapy in the areas of:
- Soft Tissue Release
- Fascial Release
- Joint Mobilization
Where physical therapy focuses on exercise, strength, and fitness, physiotherapy focuses more steadily on manual therapy. Physiotherapy also often integrates psychological and social wellbeing into therapy techniques, which provides a whole-person approach to cerebral palsy treatment.
Are Physiotherapists the Same as Physical Therapists?
Most of the time, physical therapists and physiotherapists perform the same therapy techniques. These individuals are each required to have a medical background, adequate education, and proper training for the therapy field. In the United States, therapists are often simply referred to as physical therapists, even if they take a more physiotherapy approach.
What is Physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy?
Physiotherapy is a great treatment option for children with cerebral palsy because it encompasses many aspects of daily life. It is designed to promote and maintain health, restore function, and improve quality of life in all environments. Physiotherapists work with the child and his or her family in the areas of:
- Gross Motor Skills
- Functional Mobility
- Management of Motor Deficits
- Transitioning (sitting to walking)
- Use of Assistive Devices
- Proper Wheelchair Use
- Sensory Integration
- Strength Training
- Functional Physical Therapy
- Neurodevelopmental Therapy (NDT)
The applicability of some forms of physiotherapy treatment will not apply to all individuals with cerebral palsy. These are only some examples of how physiotherapy supports families.
What are the Benefits of Physiotherapy for Cerebral Palsy?
Physiotherapy techniques may vary as your child ages and develops, and what works for one child may not work for another. However, many of the benefits are long-lasting. Some of the most notable benefits include:
Physiotherapy is most successful when it is integrated early on into the treatment of cerebral palsy. One of the many benefits of physiotherapy is that there are therapy techniques that are successful for children and adults.
Physiotherapy is also beneficial in developing skills and abilities that will allow individuals with cerebral palsy to enjoy participating in sports, recreation, or leisure activities. Physiotherapists work to identify factors that limit mobility or participation, and work toward overcoming challenges.
Physiotherapy often includes both one-on-one therapy sessions and group sessions. Group therapy is a great way to encourage socialization and the development of skills like teamwork and communication. There are a variety of organizations that host summer camps or special events for children with cerebral palsy. This is a great opportunity to use and improve socialization skills.
Physiotherapy supports a holistic approach to treatment. That means that physiotherapists work closely with occupational, speech, and exercise therapists to develop a treatment plan that is best for the patients overall health. Physiotherapists also commonly consult with social workers and psychologists to ensure that physical treatment techniques are supporting cognitive function or needs.
Remember that your child’s treatment plan will be individualized to his or her specific needs. There are many benefits of physiotherapy in general, but the applicability and success of any treatment plan depends on your child and his or her needs.