The Latest and Emerging Treatments for Cerebral Palsy
Cerebral palsy is a difficult condition for many reasons, not least of which because there is no cure. This neurological condition is caused by brain damage that is irreversible. This does not mean, however, that there is no hope for those diagnosed. In fact, a number of existing therapies can make a big difference, and there are now numerous emerging treatments for cerebral palsy that are changing quality of life for both children and adults living with CP, as well as their caregivers.
Treating Spasticity with a New Medical Device
Spasticity is a common symptom of cerebral palsy. It is characterized by stiff muscles that are difficult to control. Clinical trials are underway to test a new device on patients struggling with spasticity, including those with CP. The device is hoped to be a non-invasive way to control these involuntary muscle movements. It works by stimulating specific nerve circuits in the spine, which in turn, suppresses those that are causing muscles to be spastic. The researchers hope that the device will replace other therapies for spasticity that are invasive, risky and cause side effects.
Deep Brain Stimulation for Cerebral Palsy
Another important and emerging treatment for cerebral palsy is called deep brain stimulation. It may help with dystonia, the involuntary twisting and repetitive movements that often characterize the condition. The treatment involves the surgical insertion of electrodes in the brain. The electrodes then send electrical impulses to certain areas of the brain related to dystonia. Stimulation of a part of the brain called the globus pallidus internus has been proven to help people with cerebral palsy, but the surgery can be risky, especially for children.
Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation
Fortunately, a relatively new and non-invasive therapy option may provide similar benefits. It is called Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation. This treatment involves a small electrical current being sent to the brain to stimulate specific areas. The aim of this treatment for cerebral palsy is to help improve movement and coordination by stimulating the part of the brain responsible for controlling these functions. Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation has been found to be effective in reducing spasticity and improving the motor skills of people with cerebral palsy.
Botox Injections to Treat Hypertonia
Botox is the toxin produced by botulinum bacteria. When consumed, this toxin is very dangerous but, as an injection it can be used in a targeted way to treat a variety of conditions, including some of the symptoms of cerebral palsy. The injection has the effect of temporarily paralyzing specific muscles. Hypertonic muscles are common in cerebral palsy and are over-toned, stiff, difficult to move, and sometimes painful. The toxin paralyzes and relaxes hypertonic muscles and can ease discomfort, as a result.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is an emerging treatment for a variety of conditions and offers hope to treat cerebral palsy. Stem cells are cells in the body that have the ability to grow and change into other types of cells. The easiest stem cells to access and use for treatment are found in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. These cells are useful because they can develop into nearly every type of cell in the body.
There is great promise from research that these stem cells can help treat brain conditions by helping to regenerate damaged tissue. There are ongoing clinical trials using cord blood infusions to treat children with cerebral palsy. So far, the results are very promising, showing that this emerging treatment is safe and that it may be effective in improving symptoms of cerebral palsy. Some researchers hope it may eventually prove to be a cure for the condition.
Exoskeletons for Mobility
One of the most promising treatments for cerebral palsy is the use of exoskeletons. An exoskeleton is a wearable device that helps to support and move a person's limbs. They are battery-powered and can be used to help people with cerebral palsy who have difficulty walking. The exoskeleton helps the user to stand, walk, and climb stairs by providing additional support. It can also be used to help complete everyday tasks, such as grocery shopping, that might otherwise be difficult or impossible.
Robotic therapy is another emerging treatment for cerebral palsy that is showing promise. The treatment uses a robotic device to provide physical therapy to people with cerebral palsy. Robotic Therapy has been shown to improve motor skills and physical abilities by providing repetitive and targeted exercises. This type of therapy can be beneficial for people with cerebral palsy because it allows them to practice movements in a safe environment and can help them to build muscle strength and coordination.
Emerging Cerebral Palsy Treatments Offer Hope for the Future
Cerebral palsy is a condition with no cure, but there are a variety of treatments available to help those who live with it. Existing treatments can help to improve muscle tone, coordination, and mobility and now numerous emerging treatments promise to make a big difference in how people with cerebral palsy live and function. While it may take some time for these treatments to become widely available, they offer hope and promise for a better quality of life for people with cerebral palsy and those who love them.
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