Cerebral palsy relates to a group of neurological disorders involving a disturbed muscular coordination and movement. This condition results from brain damage occurring in the first few months or years of life, brain infections such as bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis, and head injury. The symptoms of this condition include uncoordinated muscular movements known as ataxia, rigid muscles, exaggerated reflexes, foot drop, walking on the toes, a crouched or scissored gait, and muscle tone which can be either stiff or floppy. There is no medicine for this condition in the modern system of medicine; Physiotherapy is given to improve or maintain muscular tone and coordination.
Brain damage occurring in cerebral palsy may also cause mental retardation and an inability to speak properly, coupled with a limited vocabulary. Ayurvedic treatment for cerebral palsy is therefore aimed at improving both physical and neurological functioning as well as treating mental retardation and symptoms related to dysfunctional cognition and speech. It is important to stay treatment at the earliest possible in order to obtain maximum results from Ayurvedic treatment.
Treatment for cerebral palsy is focused on reversing the brain damage and improving the health of brain cells to the maximum extent possible. Treatment also involves improving the chemical neurotransmission from the brain through the spinal chord and up to the peripheral muscles. Muscular tone and strength also needs to be improved while simultaneously reducing spasticity and muscle floppiness. The main focus is on Ayurvedic herbal medicines which are known to improve and strengthen the nervous system both structurally as well as functionally. The main treatment is in the form of oral medication which needs to be continued for at least 18 to 24 months in order to provide the maximum possible therapeutic benefit to affected individuals. Herbal medicines are used since these have a very wide safety margin and can be used for prolonged periods without any serious adverse effects.
Oral medication is also supplemented by localized therapy in the form of different types of Panchkarma treatments. These include specific treatments for the brain as well as massage therapy for the entire body. Specialized treatments known as Shiro-Basti and Shiro-Dhara are used to strengthen the brain, while different massage therapies using different types of medicated oils are used to strengthen muscles as well as provide stimulation to the peripheral nerves. Graded physiotherapy can also be given simultaneously in order to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for affected individuals.
Individuals who have cerebral palsy and pronounced mental retardation are also treated separately with herbal medicines which improve mental functioning and improve faculties of intelligence, reasoning, and speech ability. These medicines also supplement the above-mentioned treatments and improve all the symptoms commonly seen in cerebral palsy. For most individuals who have a normal brain structure, albeit with a reliably damaged or undeveloped brain, the results of Ayurvedic therapy are dramatic and can frequently improve all the symptoms as well as quality of life. Ayurvedic herbal treatment thus has a significant role to play in the management and treatment of cerebral palsy.