At Shriners Children's, our team of specialists provides individualized care for your child with cerebral palsy.
Shriners Children's provides individualized specialty care for children with all types of cerebral palsy (CP), from mild cases that require minimal intervention to more complex diagnoses that necessitate a wider range of support services. In 2020, Shriners Children’s treated over 6,700 children with CP, and U.S. News & World Report ranked six of our locations among the "best children’s hospitals for orthopedics" in the United States.
Learning to support your child with cerebral palsy can be challenging for you as a caregiver. Our multidisciplinary care team can assist in maximizing your child’s function. This may include orthopedic services, physical medicine and rehabilitation services, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Your child may also receive speech language therapy, nutrition services, and a review of bracing and equipment needs.
Since the types and severity of CP can greatly vary, every child with CP can benefit from an individualized treatment plan to thrive. Our care teams are guided by the latest research combined with their years of experience to develop a plan, in collaboration with you and your child.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral palsy is a general term applied to many conditions that can result from a disturbance to the developing brain. Cerebral palsy affects muscle tone, movement and coordination. This can make it difficult for a child to control the movement of their body. Common activities like speaking, standing or sitting can be challenging. Some children may have associated health conditions related to cognition, speech, vision, hearing, breathing issues or difficulty eating and swallowing.
How is Cerebral Palsy Diagnosed?
Parents typically recognize early signs of delayed development in their child, such as difficulty talking, sitting, standing, walking and eating, or increased or decreased muscle tone. A pediatrician or neurologist may be able to diagnose cerebral palsy by 18 months of age. A definitive diagnosis may not be made until 24 to 30 months of age, as there can be other causes of these symptoms. An MRI of the brain is often obtained to help with identifying a diagnosis. In some cases, genetic testing is required. There is no specific test for diagnosing CP.
How We Can Help
We have a multidisciplinary neuromuscular team to provide care for your child with cerebral palsy. Team members include: orthopedic surgeons, physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians; physical, occupational and speech therapists; nutritionists, social workers and orthotic specialists. The goal of the team is to maximize the function of your child.
Learn more below about treatment options for cerebral palsy.
Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.
Learn About Treatments for Cerebral Palsy (CP)
Shriners Children's understands the complex nature of CP. Our renowned team of specialists includes physicians and nurses; physical, occupational and speech therapists; social workers, care managers and RN care managers. They embrace a collaborative attitude, inviting families into the planning and treatment process. Possible treatments and related services include:
Many of our locations have a motion analysis center designed to evaluate patient movement patterns. Motion analysis assists the medical team in developing a custom approach to improve a child’s function, based on this objective measuring technique.
Tone management is a nonsurgical approach to decrease spasticity (a condition where certain muscles are continuously contracted). The goal is to improve function and the ability to sit, stand and in some cases begin walking. Neuromuscular blocking injections, medication pumps, bracing, stretching and oral medications are some of the treatment options available at our orthopedic locations.
Orthotics support the alignment of the upper and lower extremities. They can also help with stability while walking.
Pediatric Rehabilitation Services
These services may include occupational and physical therapy, aqua therapy, speech-language pathology, locomotion/walking therapy using a robotic-assisted treadmill (Lokomat), upper extremity robotic training (ARMEO) and electrical stimulation.
Assistive Device Evaluations
Our trained team of physical therapists and providers work together to recommend and prescribe equipment that can include crutches, walkers and specialty wheelchairs to aid in mobility.
Internationally recognized surgeons at Shriners Children's provide complex surgical care to ambulatory and nonambulatory children with congenital and acquired conditions. Surgical procedures vary greatly from case to case, but all are aimed at improving function and independence as much as possible. This may include surgery to foster mobility or a procedure to address a secondary condition that's hindering normal functioning.
Irvin started with limited movement on the right side of his body. Bracing, physical therapy and the hospital’s BFit power-based exercise and cycling programs improved his mobility, and gave him the confidence and endurance he needed.