Occupational Therapy and Cerebral Palsy

Occupational therapy is a common treatment for children with cerebral palsy. Many children with cerebral palsy struggle with motor functions, which can prevent them from doing everyday tasks such as eating, getting dressed and washing to performing in school or playing. An occupational therapist can assist children with cerebral palsy through a schedule of physical and mental exercises to help them learn and master these vital life skills.

What to expect

It is important to work closely with your child's occupational therapist and develop a game plan that best suits your child's needs. A solid team contracting of yourself, your child and your therapist will produce the most positive results in occupational therapy. With that in mind, open communication is absolutely essential. You want your child to feel comfortable and safe around his or her occupational therapist; they should be able to clearly understand each other and the goals set out for each session. Your child's occupational therapist should also be communicating with your child's doctor, reporting on his or her progress.

Many able-bodied adults like to push their bodies to the limit when it comes to exercise. However, for children with cerebral palsy, exercise routines should be designed with comfort and care in mind. Your child's occupational therapist should not be too demanding on the workout regimen. Any sort of rough or aggressive exercise would be counter productive and may shy your child away from this form of therapy. A slow, gentle regimen with periodic assessments of your child's range of motion is the key to an effective occupational therapy program for cerebral palsy.

Finally, you will want to ensure that your child's occupational therapist will be available for the entire duration of your child's treatment. If this is not possible, you should consider finding a therapist who can make such a commitment.

Questions to ask

Since you are all a part of a team, any questions or concerns you have should be brought to the attention of your child's occupational therapist. Talk to the therapist about any special equipment or medications your cerebral palsy child might be using before the sessions begin. The occupational therapist may even have special equipment to recommend to you and your child as the sessions go on. You should also discuss whether your child's equipment or medication has side effects that could present issues during the program. In addition, find out if there is any way you can further your child's progress in between therapy sessions.