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Health A-Z

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Harvard Medical School

Treatment

Comprehensive treatment of cerebral palsy requires a team of specialists to help maximize and coordinate movement, minimize discomfort and pain, and prevent long-term complications. This team may include a neurologist, an orthopedist, other specialists, as well as physical, speech and occupational therapists. In addition, social workers can provide support to families and help to identify private and community resources. Most children with cerebral palsy benefit from early and regular physical and occupational therapy. Some children need braces and supports to help them stand and walk. Some may have surgical procedures, such as tendon releases or bone surgery (especially on hips and spine). Some also need treatment to reduce spasticity, which may include medications taken by mouth, injections into the muscle or surgery. For children with dyskinetic cerebral palsy, medications are sometimes used to help their movement problems.

Some people with severe cerebral palsy are unable to eat and breathe without aspirating (breathing in things that normally should not go into the lungs). These people may need to be fed using a tube inserted through the skin into the stomach (gastrostomy) or may need to breathe through a small surgical opening in the neck (tracheostomy).

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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