Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term for a group of disorders affecting physical ability that is a result of brain injury during pregnancy, at birth or shortly after birth (less than 2 years). The injury associated with CP is permanent and generally does not worsen itself, however the physical impairments can change.
Physical difficulties include impaired postural control, balance, coordination, strength, sensation and proprioception (movement awareness). Non-physical difficulties include impaired speech, hearing, learning, vision and intellect. Epilepsy is also common in people with CP. Cerebral palsy can affect both legs (diplegia), an arm and a leg on the same side (hemiplegia) or all 4 limbs (quadriplegia).
Types of Cerebral Palsy
Evidence shows that the physical difficulties faced by individuals with cerebral palsy can be improved with physiotherapy. Paediatric and adult neurological physiotherapists are physiotherapists with additional training and expertise in treating problems related to the brain, spinal cord, inner ear and nerves. As cerebral palsy affects into adulthood, it is important to consider the therapists’ experience in dealing with the effects of cerebral palsy as they transition across the lifespan, and we are one of very few services in Melbourne who provide neurological physiotherapy services for children and adults.
With skills in changing motor behaviour, muscle tone and optimising for function, neurological physiotherapists can provide a wealth of knowledge in helping people with cerebral palsy navigate the appropriate services as well as provide direct therapy for specific goal achievement. This may be in the form of intensive therapy or educating carers to provide therapy support for meaningful activities.