Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders in the nervous system caused due to injuries in the brain before, during or after the birth. Since the most common victims for this condition are children, there are many disorders that can be associated with it such as seeing, hearing, imagining, thinking and movement. There is no permanent cure for this condition; however treatment to make the child as independent as possible can be achieved. Physical fitness can play a key role in this treatment by helping the child to improve posture, muscle tone and balance.
Since the degree of the condition varies for each child, physical activities should be designed such that they are safe. Studies have shown that people with cerebral palsy who are inactive have a greater severity of symptoms and lower sense of well being than the active cerebral palsy patients who follow cerebral palsy fitness training. Many people with this condition lead a sedentary lifestyle due to the decreased motor skills which do not allow them to participate in sports or other physical activity. This leads to secondary conditions such as obesity, fragility, pain and poor growth patterns. Cerebral palsy fitness training can eliminate all these secondary conditions as well as give a sense of well being to the patient.
There are a range of fitness trainings that can be given to a child with CP such as flexibility training, cardio and resistance training. Flexibility training improves movement in people with CP with the help of static stretches that are not held for more than 30 seconds. These stretches have to be done at least thrice a week and yoga is recommended to be the best flexibility training for children with cerebral palsy.
For cardio training, aerobic exercises are proved to be beneficial since they improve endurance and cardiovascular health. Cycling for 20 minutes twice a week, swimming, mat exercises and modified aerobic dance routines are recommended, as well as other cerebral palsy exercises have proven beneficial. Similarly, resistance training is also a vital part of the fitness training for cerebral palsy children. Resistance training is a physical therapy that will improve a range of motion and overall muscle tone. These resistance training activities will work with the muscles of spine, core, arms, hips, legs and feet. These activities should also be modified according to the child’s requirements so that he finds it enjoyable and fun.
However, children with CP need to do all these physical fitness programs under supervision of a physical therapist or physical trainer since they are specialized in the needs of special children. Moreover, the fitness program should be begun only after consulting a physician and keeping in mind the safety modifications that are required to be kept in place based on the type and severity of cerebral palsy. If a child with cerebral palsy cannot move about, then they can do it from a seated position. Besides, they may wish to use cuff weights and machines rather than resistance bands so that they don’t lose grip while exercising!